Move over Veganuary, it’s time to Dechox.

February’s food challenge comes from the British Heart Foundation - a fun way to raise much needed funds, and detox from chocolate.

Over and above any body benefits,  it will mean your Valentine’s day gifts need to be more creative - which can only be a good thing.  But chocolate is GOOD for you I hear you cry! That’s what we always read in health magazines, right?

Well, yes and no.

Dark chocolate’s primary benefit comes from flavonoids, a type of substance that falls under the umbrella of antioxidants. It’s claimed that dark chocolate has more than 10 times the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value of blueberries, as long as you choose quality chocolate with more than 70% cocoa content.

Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a nervous system stimulant that triggers the release of pleasurable opium-like compounds known as endorphins. It’s which is why chocolate is often referred to as ‘the love drug.’

But, it takes a lot of chocolate to have a big effect in terms of any health benefits - studies have used about three and a half ounces of dark chocolate each day to determine its benefits, that translates into about four hundred calories. 

Think of Dechox as a chance to experiment with other sweet foods. You can get a sweet hit from a chilled Medjool date - add nut butter for extra nutrition. Or, try nibbling on frozen blueberries, many people swear by them when cutting down on sugar. 

You might ultimately decide that for you, only chocolate hits the spot (certainly the case for me, especially at certain times of the month)  in which case it is about choosing the best quality chocolate, and eating just a little of it at a time.