Health & Fitness: Healthier Valentine's Day Options

By Ashley Aragona on February 12, 2013 from Health & Fitness

 

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I thought I’d spice things up a bit and do another themed post. Just like Easter, Christmas and Halloween, Valentines Day is yet another holiday that includes sweets and treats, as a main event- err, well one of them. Instead of telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat, I’ve decided to change it up a bit and tell you some of the GOOD things that you can get from these great treats. After all, they aren’t ALL bad.
 
I know those little hearts with “Kiss Me” on them are nothing but sugar, but come on, those things take you back to good times and first loves.
 
 
I could tell you about the many different foods you could eat,  (like oysters) or the ones that are best for your Fit Valentine, (like salmon) the real truth is, the star of the show is Chocolate. It seems just as the “Happy New Years” merchandise is being marked to 50% off, the giant red hearts filled with chocolates begin making their way into the spotlight. While we may at first glance mark them off as calorie ridden, cavity producing, guilt following purchases, there are some good perks of these Valentine’s Day mainstays, and the key player for perks is:
 
 DARK CHOCOLATE
Here are some reasons you can feel a little less guilty about indulging in that box, or boxes of chocolate you receive this year.
 
Bioflavinoids- All chocolate has been found to have bioflavinoids (also called Vitamin P—which are super antioxidants) but there is a difference in the quantity of these antioxidant agents from white, to milk to dark chocolate and dark chocolate has the most. The reason? The higher the percentage of cocoa in the bar--many go as high as 70% or more--the more nutritional benefit you will receive.
 
While this alone is a great reason to choose dark chocolate, I have an even better one for the “occasion”
 
AH, the Feeling of L’Amore- Did you know that dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine which is the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you're ….wait for it……
 
FALLING IN LOVE.  How appropriate for the occasion! PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier; as if getting a huge box of chocolate didn’t make you happy enough!
 
Sugar Spikes? No Way!- In addition, dark Chocolate has a low glycemic index meaning you won’t get those huge spikes in your blood sugar as with white or milk. Of course, that is also assuming you don’t eat a whole box of dark chocolate at once. We all know, it’s moderation.
 
Minerals, Minerals, Minerals- Dark chocolate also contains a number of vitamins and minerals that can support your health including:
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Magnesium 
  • Iron
The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments while the iron protects against iron deficiency anemia, and magnesium in dark chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. 
And the grand finale on the holiday of love and the heart;
 
Protect Your Sweet Hearts “Heart” Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), aka studies have show it can be good for your heart.
 
But wait, I’m not done. Since it’s Valentines Day and you want to indulge with your sweetie, I’m going to give you one more reason to eat and drink rich. Nothing pairs better with dark chocolate and the mood of Valentines Day then red wine. The best part? Like dark chocolate, red wine contains antioxidants, as well as Resveratrol, a natural antioxidantfound in the wine and red grape skins. Resveratrol is known to protect against a range of illnesses and diseases including neurodegenerative diseasessuch as Parkinson's or other dementias, cancerand heart disease and is more recently documented for its role in extending lifespan.
 
So, as I always say “moderation, moderation” but I also say “sometimes we all need to live in the moment and eat some chocolate!” This Valentines Day share with your sweetie not only a delicious treat in a heart box, but a treat that can help protect their heart.
 
Oh, and one last tip- for the guys Diamonds have been show to:
 
Increase heart rate of females (in a good way)   
 
 Release endorphins in females brains to make them feel happier and more in love
And for you they have been proven to:
 
Increase chances of hugs, kisses, boyfriend/husband bragging and a very good       ending to the holiday of love.
 
*Note these statements of diamonds have not been scientifically proven, it’s just a pretty good assumption made by a female and her panel of female friends.
 
Until next time,
 
Yours in health and fitness,
 
Ashley

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