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Chocolate and Romance

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you and your loved ones get to share a happy and healthy one.

When we think of Valentine’s Day, we usually think of two things, chocolate and romance. Okay, some might think of roses too. But back to chocolate and romance, both can make us happy and surprisingly both can help make us healthy.

Let’s talk about chocolate first. In a previous post, I talked about the mounting evidence that chocolate, more specifically dark chocolate, might be good for us when consumed regularly and in relatively small amounts. The evidence continues to accumulate and one of my favorite resources, the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter, had a feature article about dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) in its most recent issue. Here is what they had to say:

According to  Jeffery Blumberg Ph.D., director of Tuft’s HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory and noted expert on the health effects of the antioxidant polyphenol compounds found in chocolate, ”the evidence that polyphenols – specifically the flavonoids and especially the flavanols- in chocolate have some health benefits continues to grow. The highest concentrations of these polyphenols are found in dark chocolate. Studies, in particular, have focused on cardiovascular endpoints like blood pressure and vascular reactivity. Indeed enough data has been generated from these studies that positive results have been demonstrated in several published reviews and meta-analysis.”In other words it’s good for your arteries.

Other studies mentioned in the article suggest that the phytochemicals available in dark chocolate may also improve cognitive functioning in people with mild cognitive impairment, may reduce the risk of stroke and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Because of its high fat content, dark chocolate—like milk chocolate—is high in calories and must be eaten in moderation. Dr. Blumberg points out that a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that just 6.3 grams (just over a quarter of an ounce) of dark chocolate daily had a beneficial effect. For comparison purposes, the size of the standard Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bar is 41 grams or 1.45 ounces, or 6 ½ days worth of chocolate. While keeping to that miniscule level may be unrealistic for some, shoot for less than an ounce per day. When eating your dark chocolate, remember Lisette’s class on mindful eating; if paying attention, eating slowly and savoring every bite can make a raison tastes good, imagine how good it will make dark chocolate.

So what about romance, more specifically sex… can ‘it’ really improve your health? If you are interested in finding out, check out this video from MSN Health. (Guys don’t get excited, it’s not THAT kind of video.)

So best wishes for a happy healthy Valentine’s Day and enjoy a little chocolate and romance.

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