4 Healthy Ways Chocolate Can Affect Your Sweetheart

According to the National Confectioners Association, more than 36 million boxes of chocolate will be purchased for Valentine’s gifts this year. When you get yet another heart-shaped box from your sweetie on V-Day, don’t lament his lack of imagination. Chocolate is an excellent Valentine’s gift, and not just because it’s tradition. It actually has a number of health benefits. While you might doubt that your darling actually knows all the ways chocolate promotes health, take the optimist’s view: He remembered Valentine’s Day, he bought you a gift and it’s not only good for you—it’s delicious! Now here’s the health bit.

Love for Your Heart

Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, contains flavonoids, the basis for almost all of the health benefits attributed to chocolate. At the top of the list are the positive effects the flavonoids in chocolate have on your cardiovascular system. According to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, chocolate is good for your heart because it lowers your blood pressure and helps blood vessels to dilate. Giving chocolate as a gift shows you have the best interests at heart for your love’s heart-health.

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Those valuable little flavonoids also are known as antioxidants, and you’ve heard enough about those to know that they’re essential to good health. Antioxidants stabilize cells so they can regenerate and withstand the attacks of free radicals. Antioxidants work in all cells in your body so most health issues can be improved by them, including increasing energy, improving immunity, increasing circulation and even helping with digestion. The Clemson Cooperative Extension recommends pairing dark chocolate with antioxidant-rich fruit for a pleasing and even healthier combination. You can always hand dip some fruit yourself. However, many Valentine’s gift baskets contain chocolate-dipped strawberries or chocolate covered cherries, which will save you some time when you give the gift of antioxidants this Valentine’s Day.

Lowers Cholesterol

Dark chocolate is right at the top of the Healing Foods Pyramid, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Among the many health benefits listed for dark chocolate is that it increases good (HDL) cholesterol and can even decrease bad (LDL) cholesterol, due to the high quantities of stearic and oleic acid it contains. Although stearic acid is a saturated fat, it doesn’t act like most fatty acids so it won’t raise cholesterol levels in the blood. And the bonus is that oleic acid can reduce it.

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Positive Effects for the Brain

If you’ve noticed a marked improvement in your mood after you’ve downed a Dove chocolate bar, it’s not all in your head. Or, actually it is, in a way. Chocolate contains amino acids and bioactive compounds that have been scientifically proven to affect moods and feelings. Tryptophan, for instance, enhances serotonin, a mood-altering neurotransmitter that reduces feelings of anxiety. Incidentally, chocolate came by its reputation as an aphrodisiac naturally. It contains phenylethylamine. Don’t bother with trying to pronounce it. It’s enough to understand that this compound releases pleasurable endorphins in the brain that make you feel good. And here’s the chocolate-Valentine’s link: according to Brooklyn College Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, phenylethylamine is released in the brains of those who are falling in love.

Armin Brott

View posts by Armin Brott
Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, mrdad.com. You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.
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