Are Chocolate Covered Strawberries Healthy?

are chocolate covered strawberries healthy?

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Medically reviewed by Jamie Johnson, RDN

Chocolate-covered strawberries are ripe strawberries dipped in melted chocolate (typically dark, milk, or white chocolate) and left to harden. They’re a tasty combination of the sweet, tangy flavor of strawberries and the rich, indulgent taste of chocolate.

With their heart-like shape and vibrant red color contrasting with glossy chocolate exterior, chocolate-covered strawberries are especially popular during special occasions like Valentine’s Day, weddings, and other romantic events.

What’s more, chocolate-covered strawberries offer nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Strawberries provide fiber, folate, and manganese, and are especially rich in vitamin C and good-for-your-health plant compounds like anthocyanidins and polyphenols. Dark chocolate, in particular, has a high concentration of polyphenols as well.

Ahead, we’ll dive deeper into the health benefits and nutritional advantages of chocolate-covered strawberries and explore ways to enhance their health profile even further.

Health Benefits of Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Let’s take a look at the potential health benefits of chocolate-covered strawberries starting with strawberries, the star ingredient.

Strawberries

Strawberries provide an array of nutrients and are well known for their abundance of vitamin C. Vitamin C supports the immune system and acts like an antioxidant, protecting the body’s cells from free radical damage. It also aids in collagen production for wound healing and enhances iron absorption from plant-based foods.

Like many berries, strawberries are also high in manganese, a mineral involved in energy production and protecting the cells from damage. It’s also needed for bone, immune, and reproductive health and blood clotting.

Among fruits, strawberries are one of the richest sources of folate, a B vitamin required for cell division and DNA synthesis. Folate also helps prevent certain birth defects, particularly neural tube defects, making it an essential nutrient during pregnancy.

Berries, as a group, boast high antioxidant activity, aiding in reducing inflammation within the body. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to harmful stimuli, such as injury, irritants, or infection. It involves activating the immune system to protect the body. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, persisting over an extended period, it can contribute to the development of various diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

In clinical studies, regular strawberry consumption has been shown to potentially offer cardiovascular benefits by improving blood vessel function, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and atherogenic (causing atherogenesis or formation of plaque in arteries) lipid particles.

Strawberry consumption has also been shown to improve some aspects of cognition in healthy older adults.

Additionally, eating more plant foods like strawberries can help you meet the recommended intake for fiber, a nutrient many Americans don’t get enough of. Research indicates that consuming sufficient fiber can regulate bowel movements, promote fullness for extended periods which can aid in weight management, and lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Chocolate

The potential health benefits of chocolate are attributed to its basic ingredient, cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are renowned for their abundance of polyphenols, boasting higher levels of these beneficial compounds with antioxidant properties than many other foods.

Food manufacturers minimize the bitterness in cocoa beans, caused by polyphenols, by adding ingredients like sugar into cocoa products. However, this reduces the polyphenols. So dark chocolate, with its high cocoa and low sugar content, contains more antioxidants and is the type of chocolate associated with more health benefits.

Cocoa in general is rich in minerals like copper, iron, and magnesium. Dark chocolate specifically contains more iron than milk chocolate. Iron is required to make hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs and throughout the body. Iron is also needed to make some hormones.

In clinical trials, dark chocolate consumption has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar and LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels in people living with diabetes.

Research also suggests that dark chocolate may be effective in reducing blood pressure in individuals with normal and high blood pressure.

In a study involving young, healthy adults, eating 20 grams (g) of high-cocoa chocolate (90%) daily for 30 days improved vascular (blood vessel) function by reducing central brachial artery (blood vessel in the arm) pressure and improving vascular relaxation.

A study in middle-aged adults demonstrated that dark chocolate may reduce physical and mental fatigue, leading to improved quality of life and brain health.

Nutritional Facts of Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

In the absence of specific nutrition data for chocolate-covered strawberries from the U.S. Department of Health, we’ve provided nutrition information for strawberries and dark chocolate individually.

The listed nutrition information is for a 1-cup serving (144 grams or g) of whole strawberries:

  • Calories: 46.1
  • Protein: 0.965 g
  • Fat: 0.432 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11.1 g
  • Fiber: 2.88 g (10% of the Daily Value or DV)
  • Vitamin C: 84.7 milligrams or mg (94% of the DV)
  • Manganese: 0.556 mg (24% of the DV)
  • Folate: 34.6 micrograms (9% of the DV)

The following nutrition information is for a 1-ounce serving (28.35 g) of 70 to 85% dark chocolate:

  • Calories: 170
  • Protein: 2.21 g
  • Total fat: 12.1 g
  • Saturated fat: 6.95 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13 g
  • Sugar: 6.8 g
  • Fiber: 3.09 g (11% of the DV)
  • Copper: 0.502 mg (56% of the DV)
  • Iron: 3.37 mg (19% of the DV)
  • Magnesium: 64.6 mg (15% of the DV)
  • Zinc: 0.938 mg (8.5% of the DV)

Risks of Eating Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Chocolate-covered strawberries, while delicious, come with some nutritional downsides. Chocolate, regardless of the type, is a calorie-dense food containing significant amounts of sugar and fat, particularly saturated fat—the type of fat we aim to limit in our diets due to its association with increased risk of heart disease.

The combination of chocolate and strawberries adds additional sugar and calories to the mix, potentially contributing to weight gain and other health issues if consumed excessively. Consider them a special indulgence. Moderation is crucial when enjoying chocolate-covered strawberries or any treats. Incorporating treats into a balanced diet is essential for overall health and well-being.

Ways to Make Chocolate-Covered Strawberries Healthier

Making chocolate-covered strawberries at home is the best way to boost their health profile because you control the ingredients you add. Choose dark chocolate with higher cocoa and lower sugar content.

Instead of sugary toppings like sprinkles, consider experimenting with nutritious alternatives to enhance their flavor and nutritional value. For variation, try coating strawberries in crushed nuts like almonds or pistachios for added crunch, healthy fat, and protein. You can also roll the chocolate-covered strawberries in chia seeds for extra fiber and texture.

Another option is to dip strawberries in vanilla Greek yogurt for a creamy white texture and a calcium boost. Pop them in the freezer to allow the yogurt to harden. You can also drizzle frozen yogurt-covered strawberries with melted dark chocolate.

A Quick Review

Chocolate-covered strawberries provide a great blend of flavors and textures. Beyond their tasty flavor, these treats offer health benefits derived from their nutritious components. While store-bought options often contain added sugars and fats, making them at home allows you to select healthier ingredients to pair with strawberries, such as dark chocolate with higher cocoa content and healthier coatings like nuts or yogurt.

Read the original article on Health.com.

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