February 11, 2009

Chocolate, a healthy treat, but only a bit

Chocolate -- a Valentine's Day favorite -- can be a healthful choice too, a U.S. expert says.

Sally Scroggs of the University of Texas M D. Anderson Cancer Center's Cancer Prevention Center in Houston says chocolate is not only a symbol for love, indulgence and temptation, but now can be justified for its health attributes because cocoa products contain high levels of healthful antioxidants.

Savoring a small amount of dark chocolate is much better than gulping soft drinks or eating doughnuts, Scroggs says in a statement. Remember, dark chocolate is still a calorie-dense food that can be high in fat. You can enjoy it daily as part of a balanced diet, as long as you keep your portion size in check.

Scroggs advises buying chocolate that can be eaten in small portions, such as individually wrapped chocolates or boxed candy with approximately 1 ounce per serving. Recommended servings for dark chocolate are 7 ounces per week, which is about 1 ounce per day.

Besides looking at portion size and calorie content, Scroggs advises checking the ingredients.

Make sure they don't contain fats, such as palm and coconut oils, she says,and they are made without the use of 'hydrogenated' or 'partially hydrogenated' oils.