Dark Chocolate Recipes: Sweet Treats That Can Have a Positive Impact on Heart Health

Health Professional
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Dark chocolate not only tastes great — studies also show that it can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease. Here are five recipes made with this powerful source of antioxidants.

1. Chocolate chip banana muffins

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This is a new, healthier twist on an old favorite. The added flax seeds provide a great source of healthy fat, antioxidants, and fiber (soluble and insoluble). Research has shown that consumption of flax seeds may lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, lung disease, and cancer (specifically prostate, breast, and colon). Flax seeds can also lower your blood cholesterol. These muffins are also vegan-friendly!

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Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1 cup wheat bran

1/4 cup flaxseeds

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 pinch each: ground nutmeg, allspice, and ginger

10 ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 cup raisins or other dried fruit

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.

Whisk flour, bran, rolled oats, flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg together in a bowl. Mix bananas and coconut oil together in a separate large bowl; stir dry ingredients into banana mixture. Fold in walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and dried fruit into batter. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 full.

Bake muffins in the preheated oven until lightly golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean (about 30 minutes).

2. Dark chocolate and peanut butter protein bars

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Love the taste of chocolate and peanut butter? These snack bars are a sweet treat with added protein from Greek yogurt and protein powder. Adding sunflower seeds to this recipe gives you a boost of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

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Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup natural peanut butter, heated until melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 fluid ounces pure maple syrup

1 cup vanilla-flavored protein powder

1 dark chocolate bar (2 oz.), chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Mix oats, sunflower seeds, coconut, brown sugar, sea salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.

Stir yogurt, coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla, and maple syrup, together in a separate bowl until smooth. Add to oats mixture and stir to coat. Mix protein powder and chocolate into the mixture and spread into the baking dish. Bake in the oven until browned (about 15 minutes). For crispier bars, cut into bars after baking, put on a cookie sheet, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

3. Dark chocolate chip cookies

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Your kids will never know that these cookies are good for them! The cocoa nibs and walnuts are packed with antioxidants, and the chia and flax seeds provide additional fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.

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Ingredients:

1 cup coconut sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons hot water

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 cups flour

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup cocoa nibs

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat coconut sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, butter, and coconut oil with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Beat eggs into creamed butter mixture one at a time. Add vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Stir hot water and baking soda together in a small bowl until baking soda is dissolved. Stir into butter mixture. Add cream of tartar and mix well. Mix flour into butter mixture until dough is smooth. Then fold in chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, cocoa nibs, chocolate chips, and salt. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake until cookies are lightly browned around the edges (about 12 minutes). Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

4. Almond and dark chocolate granola

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Flaxseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are added to this traditional granola recipe to add a boost of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. All of these “super seeds” have been shown to have health-protective benefits.

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Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cup slivered almonds

2 tablespoons hemp seed hearts

2 tablespoons flax seeds

3 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Mix oats, coconut, almonds, hemp seed hearts, flax seeds, and chia seeds together in a bowl. Mix orange juice, vanilla, and honey together in a separate large bowl. Add oat mixture to honey mixture and stir well until evenly coated. Spread granola onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake until golden brown (about 50 minutes). Mix chocolate chips into granola. Cool to room temperature.

5. Dark chocolate granola bars

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In addition to the heart-healthy nuts and seeds in this recipe, these bars also contain quinoa, a protein rich grain that’s high in fiber.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups quinoa
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 cup natural crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread quinoa, oats, almonds, and chia seeds on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven, stirring halfway through, until golden brown (about 15 minutes). Mix peanut butter, coconut oil, and honey together in a bowl. Add oat mixture, ground flax seed, and sea salt until well combined. Press granola mixture into a 12x18-inch baking pan. Bake in the oven until the bars are set (about five minutes). Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake until chocolate is just melted (about five minutes). Spread melted chocolate evenly over bars with a rubber spatula. Place pan in the freezer until chocolate is firm (about 20 minutes). Cut into bars.

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