OK, chocolate will never be healthy-healthy, but this is holiday time, and chocolate is a joy, and dark chocolate does have something truly healthy going for it: flavanols.
Flavanols are phytochemicals, plant-derived substances with antioxidant properties. (Vitamin C and beta carotene are phytochemicals, too.) It's the cocoa itself that contains the flavanols, which is why dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, is healthy in small doses: The dark version has a lot more cocoa in it.
A small supply of dark chocolate isn't the only way to include some vice without completely blowing the health angle. Red wine and espresso beans, too, are antioxidant-heavy and have health benefits when consumed in moderation [source: Purcell].
Wine, chocolate, popcorn, nuts, fruits, cookies ... It's a gift basket that says "I'm feeling festive," not "I'm concerned with your health." Not that an eye toward health is ever a bad thing, but you probably don't want to be the one giving out toothbrushes on Halloween or sugar-free cupcakes at the birthday party, so to speak -- especially when it's so easy to give good food and good health. You can just be the one whose beautiful, delicious baskets don't make everybody feel bloated and tired after the holidays.
For more information on holiday gifts, healthy eating and related topics, check out the links below.
More Great Links
- "Healthy Eating: Nuts & Seeds." SFGate. (Sept. 24, 2012)
- Henneman, Alice. "Nuts for Nutrition." University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension - Lancaster County. March 2004. (Sept. 26, 2012) http://lancaster.unl.edu/food/ftmar04.htm
- Micco, Nicci. "Eating Well - True or false: How much so you know about cholesterol?" EatingWell.com. Chicago Tribune. May 23, 2012. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-05-23/lifestyle/sns-201205221730--tms--premhnstr--k-g20120523-20120523_1_trans-fats-manmade-trans-unsaturated-fats
- "Mrs. Fields® Gifts Nutritional Information." Mrs. Fields. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://www.mrsfields.com/misc/nutrition/
- Purcell, Janella. "Are dark chocolate and red wine good for us?" NineMSN. May 22, 2009. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://health.ninemsn.com.au/whatsgoodforyou/factsheets/816756/are-dark-chocolate-and-red-wine-good-for-us
- "Raw Nuts -- A Better Choice?" Dr. Weil. Jan. 7, 2005. (Sept. 27, 2012) http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA341117
- Robin, Suzanne. "Health Benefits of Nuts: Raw vs. Roasted." SFGate. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-nuts-raw-vs-roasted-3920.html
- "Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet." Mayo Clinic. (Sept. 26, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/whole-grains/NU00204
- Wright, Kendra. "The Healthy Benefits of Popcorn." SFGate. (Sept. 24, 2012) http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/healthy-benefits-popcorn-4376.html