With Valentine's Day right around the corner, there's nothing that comes to mind more than chocolate. And with all the recent studies showing the health benefits found in cocoa, you might be tempted to eat too much. Let's get the facts straight so you don't go eating all the chocolate in sight.

Yes, it's true that chocolate has many beneficial properties. Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, which is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants and helps prevent heart disease and cancer. Typically, the darker the chocolate, the greater the health benefits. But, not all chocolates are created equal. So, if you are going to consume chocolate for health benefits it is best to consume dark chocolate with the least amount of added sugar and fat as possible.

There are 3 types of chocolate_

Dark: (at least 60% cocoa) contains the most flavonoids and the least amount of sugar Milk:(usually 30%-50% cocoa) contains very little health benefits and is typically loaded with extra fat and sugar White:(no cocoa) contains no health benefits

So on this Valentine's Day, for those of you who want to use chocolate as a pleasurable preventative, remember: The darker, the better. But a balanced diet and exercise are still the keys to a healthy heart. Keep in mind, a serving is not an entire box or bar, but it is closer to an ounce.

Besides your typical chocolate treats, other F-Factor recommended products sure to beat a chocolate craving are GNU Foods Flavor & Fiber Chocolate Brownie Bar (14 grams of fiber) and Chocolite bars (12 grams of fiber for 2 pieces).

*F-Factor Best Bites

Calories

Fat

Sat. Fat

Carbs (g)

Fiber (g)

*Lindt Excellence 70% (3 squares)

160

12

8

10

2

*Cacao Reserve by Hershey's 65% Extra Dark Chocolate (3 squares)

180

N/A

N/A

N/A

4

*Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% (3 squares)

200

17

10

17

4

*GNU Foods Flavor & Fiber Chocolate Brownie Bar

140

3

1

32

12

*Chocolite (1 piece)

30

2

1

8

6

For comparison:

Snickers bar (1 bar, 2 oz.)

280

14

5

36

1

Reese's Peanut Butter cups (1 package, 2 cups)

280

14

5

25

2

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of Skinnyandthecity.com. She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto

www.FFactorDiet.com

.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

Subscribe to Tanya’s FREE Weekly Newsletter and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To learn more about Tanya’s private nutrition counseling services visit www.ffactor.com.