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Is Chocolate Really Heart Healthy? You Bet!

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After having such a very sad couple of weeks, there's nothing like surrounding yourself with good food, friends and family. One delectable super food that is good for our overall health including our hearts is dark chocolate or more specifically cocoa and bittersweet chocolate (which must contain at least 60% cocoa). It is appropriately coined "food for the gods". Studies show that the flavonoids found in dark chocolate can do such remarkable heart healthy tasks as increasing HDL (good cholesterol), lower LDL (bad cholesterol) as well as lower blood pressure and your triglycerides, which in turn lowers your risk for atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Of course, one of the best benefits of eating dark chocolate is that it elevates your mood by releasing endorphins into your blood stream. Perfect!

Below is a recipe for unbelievably delicious Chocolate Almond Biscotti. See if you can find the 4 super foods in the recipe below. ENJOY!

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

11/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped slivered almonds

2 ounces bittersweet (60% cocoa or more) chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat on low just until combined. Fold in the almonds and chocolate.

3. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet and shape into a loaf about 9" X 5". Bake for 20 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Remove to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes.

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Cut the loaf crosswise into 18 (1/2 inch thick) slices. Place the slices cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake, turning once, for 25 minutes, or until dry and crisp. Remove to rack to cool completely.

Makes 18

Per serving: 145 calories, 65 calories from fat, 7 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 34 mg cholesterol, 81 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 3 g protein.

SOURCE: "WomenHeart's All Heart Family Cookbook; Featuring the 40 Foods Proven to Promote Heart Health," by Kathy Kastan and Suzanne Banfield (Rodale, $29.95, 301 pages).

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