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Dark chocolate and red wine offer heart benefits

Treat her heart this holiday

Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day, and you know what that means: boxes of chocolate and calorie-laden meals out.

Not exactly diet friendly, to be sure–but allowing yourself those Valentine’s Day indulgences don’t have to mean sacrificing your health.

In fact, they can be downright good for you…if you pick the right ones. That means avoiding those pure-sugar conversation hearts and drugstore milk chocolate assortments.

Lucky for you, the right choices are just about as romantic as you can get.

Picture this: a cozy night in with your love, enjoying a bottle of red wine and some deep, dark gourmet chocolate. Both certainly qualify as indulgences that speak the language of love, but they also take care of your heart in a more literal sense.

Let’s start with the wine–red wine contains resveratrol, which lowers blood sugar (and is considered an essential component of anti-aging regimens, of course). It also contains catechins, which have been shown in some studies to help improve HDL cholesterol.

As for the chocolate, you just need to be sure it has a cocoa content of at least 70 percent–yep, we’re talking the deep, dark, complex stuff. Like red wine, it contains resveratrol, giving you and your sweetie a double dose of heart care. It also contains flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that act as anti-inflammatories and have also been shown to have anti-cancer properties, as well as potential as prebiotics.

Want to take the chocolate boost a step farther? Choose a dark chocolate that also contains walnuts or almonds. They both contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin E, magnesium, and mono- and polyunsaturated fats that are good for the heart.

Now, if you’re a chocolate lover, here’s the best news you’re going to hear all week. The best way to reap the benefits of chocolate is to enjoy a little bit every day.

A recent meta-analysis of 42 studies, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that regular consumption of cocoa is associated with significantly improved blood flow and blood pressure. The analysis also points out cocoa’s promising effects on insulin.

So, this Valentine’s Day, why not pick up a bottle of red and a bar of the best dark chocolate you can find? As far as special indulgences go, they’re the very best way to show that you care.

P.S. Curious about neurotransmitters and depression? Keep reading.

Sources:
“Dark chocolate and red wine are the heart-healthy food, drink of love,” Medical Xpress (medicalxpress.com)