Valentine’s Day is the single biggest day of the year for chocolate sales.
According to Nielsen, consumers are expected to buy more than $345 million in chocolate candy during Valentine’s week, with more than 58 million pounds of chocolate candy being sold. And February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day, is the top total candy and chocolate candy buying day in February.
What are folks on a diet to do?
It’s hard not be tempted by those heart-shape boxes filled with assorted chocolates. But if you’re watching your weight, you do have some options. For example, you can bake a Chocolate Sweetheart Cake.
This recipe is featured in this month’s Diabetes Health Magazine, which means it’s low-carb friendly. Make it in the shape of a heart, and you’ve got yourself a perfect Valentine’s Day treat.
One slice of Chocolate Sweetheart Cake has only 212 calories, 7 grams protein, 16 grams fat and 5 grams carbohydrates.
If you’re thinking of indulging in a box of sugar-free chocolates, however, think again.
“To make chocolate ‘sugar free,’ sugar alcohols, usually maltitol, are used in place of sucrose or table sugar. These sugar alcohols, known as polyols, have fewer calories and tend to have less of an impact on blood glucose than does regular sugar,” Gerri French tells DiabetesHealth.com.
“However, many people’s digestive systems can tolerate only a small amount of these foods before they experience a laxative effect,” she adds.
One thing regular chocolates and sugar-free chocolates have in common is they are both high in calories and saturated fat. But one-third of the saturated fat in regular dark chocolate is a unique saturated fat called stearic acid, which does not seem to contribute to heart disease.
So if you are going to indulge in chocolate, go for a delicious, decadent dark chocolate. Good ones to try include Godiva Santo Domingo 85% or Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Extra Fine Dark Chocolate Bar.
Dark chocolate provides the greatest benefit because it contains the most cocoa butter. Check labels and choose chocolates that have cocoa, cocoa mass, and cocoa butter as the main ingredient and the least amount of sugar and additives.
And remember, dark chocolate is fine in moderation (A Square a Day Keeps the Doctor Away). A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that dark chocolate can significantly reduce the inflammation that leads to cardiovascular disease.
Why does this matter to you? Because there is no way to avoid Valentine’s Day, a holiday that revolves around chocolate. So you can do one of two things: indulge or restrain. If you choose to indulge, find the most decadent, high-quality dark chocolate out there and enjoy. If you want to have a treat without the insulin rush, find modified recipes like the Chocolate Sweetheart Cake, which will satisfy your craving for chocolate without added the sugars or that unwanted laxative effect. Just make sure the indulgence ends after one serving!