It's Official, Dark Chocolate is GOOD for you!

"A healthy diet is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," said lead author Dr Rossella Di Stefano, a cardiologist at the University of Pisa, Italy. "Fruits and vegetables exert their protective effects through plant polyphenols, which are found in cocoa, olive oil, and apples.

This study tested the association between consumption of dark chocolate enriched with extra virgin olive oil with atherosclerosis progression in healthy individuals with cardiovascular risk factors.

The study included 26 volunteers (14 men, 12 women) with at least three cardiovascular risk factors (smoking, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, or family history of cardiovascular disease) who received 40 grams of dark chocolate daily for 28 days.  They measures metabolic changes in lipid profile, blood pressure and circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). EPCs are critical for vascular repair and maintenance of healthy lining of our blood vessels.

After 28 days, the researchers found tOlive oil-enriched chocolate was associated with significantly increased high-density lipoprotein ("good") cholesterol and decreased blood pressure compared to baseline.

Dr Di Stefano said: "We found that small daily portions of dark chocolate with added natural polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil was associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile. Our study suggests that extra virgin olive oil might be a good food additive to help preserve our 'repairing cells', the EPC."

Here is my favorite EASY recipe for dark chocolate covered strawberries so you can indulge guilt free!

  • Strawberries (organic if possible and definitely washed with an organic veggie wash)
  • Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips
  • Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes (optional) 

Pour the EVOO on top of the chocolate chips. Melt the chocolate slowly until smooth and slightly runny.  Dip strawberries in chocolate holding by the stem.  Put on parchment paper and place in refrigerator for about 20 minutes and VOILA!  If you like coconut, dip the strawberries once dunked in the chocolate into a nice pile of coconut for added nutritional benefits. DELISH!