Happy Valentine’s Day! If you are scrambling for a last-minute gift or sentiment for this special day, you can never go wrong with dark chocolate and red wine. They are not only romantic, they’re heart smart too.
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, called flavonoids. The antioxidants have a positive effect on multiple body systems, including the heart. There is a high concentration of cocoa in dark chocolate (70% higher cocoa than milk chocolate) and that is where the flavonoid benefit comes from.
According to Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute cardiologist Julie Damp, M.D., “Dark chocolate has been shown to be associated with lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and improvement in the way your blood vessels dilate and relax.”
Flavonoids are also present in red wine. Many studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption, which is one drink a day for women and one to two for men, is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks. It is also said to improve the good HDL cholesterol levels.
That doesn’t mean you should start drinking wine all the time, but it won’t hurt if you’d like to have a little on Valentine’s Day or other special occasions. Don’t forget, other foods like fruits, vegetables and grape juice also contain antioxidants.
Dr. Damp adds, “A good message is that these things should be done in moderation and in conjunction with your physician’s plan for you to lower your cardiovascular risk.”
It is always good to eat smart no matter what age you are. Prevention is the best medicine. Show your better half how much you care with these heart healthy treats. Have a happy, safe and moderate Valentine’s Day!
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