A chocolate romance may be the healthiest relationship you’ll ever have.
With studies consistently proving the health benefits chocolate has on the body, it’s no wonder why some lovers insist on curling up to a box of chocolaty goodness for Valentine’s Day.
And who can blame them? Scientists at Hershey’s Center for Health and Nutrition recently proved that dark chocolate is richer in health-boosting antioxidants than juices made from blueberries, cranberries and other fruits — making it the newest member of the superfood family.
The study compared antioxidants found in blueberries, cranberries, pomegranate and acai fruit juices with small bars of dark chocolate and liquid chocolate. The small bars of chocolate came out on top in all tests, according to the Chemistry Central Journal. On a regrettable note, drinking chocolate came in last in all tests.
Cocoa and dark chocolate triumphed in tests for flavanols, which has been proven to help battle air toxins and prevent wrinkles.
Packed with antioxidants known as polyphenols, which protects against cardiovascular disease and cancer, all it takes to produce heart-healthy results is 6.7 grams of dark chocolate daily, which is about the size of a small chunk of a Hershey’s bar.
Of course, this new information doesn’t mean you should kick your fruit to the curb and substitute for chocolate. Try chocolate strawberries; the new study simply means that both food groups have their benefits.
So chocoholics, unwrap those sweet decadent treats; you now have a good excuse to eat the sweet stuff without a guilty conscience.
They’re called sinful for a reason
Don’t trust all chocolate – it will let you down. Milk chocolate and drinking chocolates will not provide the same heart-healthy results as small bars of dark chocolate. Some chocolate, as a result of processing, can be loaded with sugars and oil lowering the level of polyphenols (antioxidants). So, when fishing for a new chocolate love, be careful. Not all chocolate can be trusted.
Chocolate may be just the thing needed to get your Valentine’s Day started right. Research suggests that carbohydrates found in chocolate helps increase serotonin, a chemical that affects moods by increasing appetite and sexual interest.
Moderation is the key to a healthy life. If you feel like you have had one chocolate too many, then you’re probably right. Chocoholics have been proven to show addictive behavior towards the sweet delicacies, similar to alcoholics. The only difference is chocolate is actually healthy when not overdone. If you grab a Hershey’s bar of chocolate, eat only a small portion of the bar – four sections will do. If you’re worried your chocolate will go bad, wrap it in foil and place it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh until the next day.
Don’t sweat the sweet stuff
If chocolate isn’t your thing, maybe red wine better suits your culinary taste for bitter-sweet healthy pleasures. Studies show that red wine contains polyphenols and flavanoids, also found in chocolate, which protects against heart disease. Studies have also proven that alcohol can increase good cholesterol and can protect arteries. So depending on if you’re planning on sharing your evening with a loved one, or planning on purchasing a bottle as a gift, it’s safe to say you can’t go wrong with red wine — especially since it seems to be the gift that keeps on giving (at least until the last drop, anyway.)
Love your body and mind
Loners, don’t fret. Valentine’s Day can be a good day to show yourself some love. Treating yourself to chocolate and a bouquet of flowers may be just what the doctor ordered. The fresh aroma from flowers can provide mental relaxation, helping to decrease stress levels that can raise blood pressure and contribute to heart attacks. But don’t forget, a good black and white romance film (Casablanca is one of my favorites) and a glass of wine can really set a relaxing mood and provide sweet dreams throughout the night.