Health food heroes #3 – Lemon and dark chocolate

Last time on Health Food Heroes we covered cranberries and avocado. Today our two candidates are lemon and dark chocolate.

Whether you're a healthy eating enthusiast or you're just dipping your toes into the world of good food choices, read on and you may just learn something new about these food heroes which will make you pop them into your produce bag.

As we're all about reducing the stress that single use plastic bags puts on our planet, the lightweight yet strong tulle material of our bags means they have a two kilogramme capacity – now that's a lot of fruit or chocolate. 

1. Lemon

What is it?

This brightly coloured citrus fruit is known for its tart, sweet-acidic flavour. The fruit of a small evergreen tree, lemons originated from Asia, and as with many other fruits, eventually found its way across to Europe and the Americas through trade. 

What makes it a food hero?

One of the most flexible fruits out there, the lemon is known for being high in potassium and vitamin C, according to online health source WebMD. This is perhaps why lemons were once thought to cure scurvy, which is caused by a vitamin C deficiency.

However, vitamin C is essential for general health, as it is responsible for maintaining and repairing our bones, teeth and cartilage as well as the common cold as stated by WebMD. 

Our produce bags are a great way of transporting and storing your lemons, so that they don't sweat and bruise like they would in plastic bags. Alternatively you can keep you lemons fresh for longer in your produce bag by popping it on a hook to hang in your pantry. 

What can I do with it?

Lemons are a key ingredient in a wide range of food and drink. 

For a refreshing jug of homemade lemonade, BBC's Good Food recommends combining 3 roughly cut lemons, 140g of caster sugar, and 1 litre of water in a food processor until the lemon is finely chopped. Sift the mixture into a large bowl, pressing through as much of the juice as you can from the pulp. Add a dash more water to taste and pour over ice cubes for a refreshing homemade drink you can pour into your stainless steel drink bottle

2. Dark chocolate

What is it?

While we're sure you are familiar with chocolate, there are several types, not all of which are beneficial to your health. Dark chocolate has a high percentage of cocoa, with better quality products usually ranging from 70 per cent and upwards.

The confectionery's typical rich and bitter taste tends to be amplified the higher the cocoa percentage, with unsweetened dark chocolate containing up to 100 per cent cocoa solids. If you are used to eating regular milk chocolate with a lower percentage of cocoa solids, then be warned dark chocolate may come as a bit of a change in taste. 

What makes it a food hero?

While chocolate has an alluring taste for most, researchers from the University Hospital of Cologne have found that small, regular amounts of dark chocolate (6.3g) was found to alleviate high blood pressure for otherwise healthy participants, while an identical amount of white chocolate produced no such effect. 

It was suggested that this is due to dark chocolate being rich in a type of micronutrients called polyphenols, which have been suggested to help prevent cancers and degenerative diseases according to the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition. 

What can I do with it?

Eat it. Just not too much of it. While the benefits from dark chocolate might seem like a reason to munch through that king size bar, remember that the results from chocolate research are primarily based on a light intake, typically one block or a couple of grams a day. Much more than that, and you may find yourself falling prey to the high fat levels due to the cocoa butter content.