Healthy Living
Active Living

Heart-Healthy Chocolates

Chocolate, good for us? Ah, life is sweet indeed. With recent reports that dark chocolate is brimming with cancer-zapping antioxidants and heart-healthy fats, we guiltlessly present to you: the best in cocoa.

Packing Heat

Want to spice up your chocolate regimen? Put a fire in your belly with Vosges's cinnamon-and-chili-infused Red Fire bar. Specializing in "haut-chocolat"' s- no pun intended's- Vosges goes where no chocolatier has gone before, combining hand-selected spices and flowers from around the world with premium chocolate. So, what's it gonna do for you? Well, what isn't it going to do for you, my dear? Cinnamon, the überspice, touts everything from lowering cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides to increasing concentration and circulation. All things in moderation, of course: Cinnamon at unknown-though-very-high levels can be toxic. Just ask those darn mosquitoes; apparently cinnamon oil, when applied topically, is even more effective than DEET. Who knew?

Livin' La Vida Mocha

Behold: the true chocolate buzz. Scharffen Berger's chocolate-coated coffee beans deliver a wallop of caffeine and feel-good chemicals, all in one fell crunch. But can this delectable duo possibly be good for you? With recent studies suggesting that coffee boosts mood and memory, sharpens concentration and lowers one's risk of diabetes, all we have to say is, where have you bean all my life? So long, double shot, half caf, clouds in my 'ccino; we'll take our beans straight up.

How Now, Brown Cow?

You want to jump on the chocolate-for-health bandwagon, but baby don't do dark. Milk it for all it's worth with Chick Chocolates calcium-fortified milk chocolate. A one-ounce pack of Strong Chick serves up 47 percent of your recommended daily calcium intake. We can think of worse ways to spend 155 calories. Sure, you won't get any of the cancer-fighting antioxidants offered by dark chocolate (you'll need the Extreme Chick for that), but you can toss out those "let's pretend this plastic tastes like chocolate" calcium chews. Just remember, strong bones by way of chocolate will not help you squeeze into your favorite jeans.

Turning Japanese

The Japanese have it all over us when it comes to a healthful diet. Statistics show they have the longest life expectancy on the planet. While that is probably due more to their seaweed and soy consumption than their chocolate intake, we at iVillage believe in small changes. And what better way to incorporate their yin into our yang than a Vosges Black Pearl bar? Infused with wasabi, ginger and black sesame seeds, it offers the antioxidant power of dark chocolate along with the health benefits of wasabi (fights cancer, cavities and blood clots), ginger (digestive aid, immunity booster) and sesame (lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol)

Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart

Sweet? Please, how insulting. Your life is all about bitterness and you like it that way. Well, prepare to meet your match. Extra bitter and extra healthful, Michel Cluizel's Noir Infini will challenge the taste buds of even the most particular chocophile. At 99 percent pure cocoa mass, the black beauty -- ironically -- barely qualifies as chocolate, explains spokesman Jacques Dahan. Chocolate, he says, must contain minimum amounts of liqueur (cocoa butter and particulates) and sugar. Despise the cloyingly sweet? Fanatics are devoted to Noir Infini's unadulterated flavor. Will you let go of your bitterness? Never. But here's one (chocolate) chip on your shoulder that you can be happy to eat away at.

Like Water for Chocolate

You are a health nut to the core. If it's got any saturated fat, you're over it. Well then, Miss I-Wanna-Live-Forever, this cup's for you. Fair-trade and organic certified, Dagoba was named best organic chocolate by Food and Wine magazine. And if you're looking for the biggest antioxidant bang for your buck, unsweetened cocoa powder has double the antioxidants of dark chocolate and four times that of red wine. That's like putting back four glasses of vino, except you get to keep the antioxidants and lose the hangover! And not to be a buzz-kill, but adding milk to your cocoa destroys those free-radical fighters, so you'd better make it with water or soy.