Chocolate: The love drug

That chocolate candy you received for Valentine's Day can be good for moderation.

As evidenced by the number of store aisles filled with red boxes, no treat says ‘I love you’ on Valentine’s Day more than chocolate (except maybe those little candy hearts!). But chocolate is more than a culinary indulgence; it can be good for our hearts as well as our love life!

Chocolate, sometimes known as the love drug, contains chemicals that release endorphins in our brains that produce the same happy feelings as we experience when we are in love.
In addition to making us feel good, chocolate contains many health benefits when eaten in moderation.

Dark chocolate, at least 70% cacao, maximizes the medicinal benefits, mainly from a group of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory compounds called polyphenols. Similar compounds are found in green tea, red wine, and many fruits and vegetables. Milk chocolate contains these same compounds but in a more watered-down version due to the reduced amount of cacao.

Dark chocolate has been found to boost both long and short-term memory, increase nerve function, and blood and oxygen flow in the brain.

Cardiovascular benefits include increased blood flow to the heart and decreased blood pressure.

Chocolate also provides a healthy dose of magnesium which works to prevent diabetes and anxiety and promotes healthy bones. It also provides antioxidants that fight against those nasty free radicals that destroy our bodies’ healthy cells and contribute to cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, cataracts, and cancer.

And more good news.

Red wine, an excellent pairing with dark chocolate, contains resveratrol which shares many of the health properties with magnesium, reduces inflammation, and promotes liver, GI, and heart health.

Again, moderation is the key. So enjoy that boxed chocolate you got for Valentine’s Day, or treat yourself to the leftover candy at the store; just remember that moderation is the key to keeping these simple indulgences healthy.

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