Happy Valentine’s Day to all! Although traditionally Valentine’s day is for lovers. My belief is that Valentine’s Day is a day to appreciate those you love; family, friends and even yourself. A day of self appreciation and spreading positive thoughts that are warm and embracing to everyone. If you are single celebrate! Throw a party or read a romance novel. Do whatever you want but partake in Valentine’s Day by reaching out to others to spread love and happiness.
Valentine’s Day DOES NOT need to focus on spending money, Here are, “5 Simple Ways to Have a Frugal Valentine’s Day”, http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-frugal-shopper/articles/2016-01-25/5-simple-ways-to-have-a-frugal-valentines-day.
If you do choose to splurge of course, a massage or gift basket filled with healthy relaxation items, such as lotions, tea, wine is always nice.
But, chocolate has been a traditional gift for over 140 years when Richard Cadbury introduced the first Valentines’ Day box of chocolates. In fact, 1.6 billion dollars is spent on candy on this day. So why not indulge in a little chocolate on Valentine’s Day?
Get creative using healthy high cocoa, low sugar dark chocolate for a guiltless valentine’s day treat. Read the labels on any product you purchase. It is important to keep in mind that just because chocolate is dark does not mean it is healthy. Focus on the ingredients section to know what it is you are exactly eating.
Cocoa is a superfood. Seven reasons to eat chocolate on Valentines Day:
- Better moods: Cocoa contributes to a calming feeling because of its effect on serotonin but is also contains Phenylethylamine (a body chemical or neurotransmitter) and theobromine (an alkaloid,http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/theobromine.php) which can produce a stimulating euphoric effect, and is considered a mood enhancer.
2. Memory boost: The ability of cocoa to boost memory was tested in a small clinical trial where 90 older individuals consumed 48 mg, 520 mg 994 mg of cocoa flavanols (CF) for 8 weeks. Cognitive function was assessed at baseline and after 8 wk and it was found to “reduce some measures of age-related cognitive dysfunction, possibly through an improvement in insulin sensitivity”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25733639.
- Heart health: Research has shown bacteria in the gut ferments both the antioxidants and the fiber in cocoa to produce anti-inflammatory compounds that improve heart blood vessel function, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-is-dark-chocolate-good-for-you-thank-your-microbes/, in addition to the heart benefits of lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, raising HDL, improving type 2 diabetes and insulin sensitivity. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23870648
- Antioxidants: Not many realize just how power packed cocoa is yet findings from Cornell University has shown cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea.
- Micronutrients: There is added value with small amounts of vitamins and minerals; magnesium, iron, chromium, vitamin C, zinc.
- Taste: Who does not love chocolate?*
- Fat: Healthy fat adds to the health value of chocolate. The type of fat found in cocoa butter is unlikely to clog arteries. Most of that fat in cocoa butter contains the same monounsaturated fat as olive oil, oleic acid (known for supporting good heart-healthy) and stearic (a saturated fat) that has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
*Chocolate that is higher in cocoa (85% or higher) and is minimally processed with sugar is sinfully delicious and healthy. The more cacao and the less amounts of other unhealthy ingredients such as sugar and milk solids, the better. Adding your own nuts will minimize any bitter taste.
The goal is to get as close to 100% cocoa as possible and avoid Dutch processing (cocoa that is treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity). You will notice with lower amounts of unhealthy ingredients, healthy chocolate contains more cocoa, more fiber and more fat. It is important to keep in mind that just because chocolate is dark does not mean it is healthy. Read the labels on any product you purchase. Focus on the ingredients section to know what it is you are exactly eating.
Use these brands as Valentine’s Day options. These taste good and are easily available:
- >90% Cocoa Lindt
- Vivani 85% Cocoa
- Endangered Species 88% Cocoa (one serving is 17 g of carbs so only do <1/3 of a bar)
Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is the perfect “guiltless” pleasure. So if you love chocolate, eat it! There is absolutely no reason not to indulge on Valentines day.