Knit Your Favorite Indulgences Into Healthy Valentine’s Day
This Valentine’s Day there is nothing women love more than roses than a few of their favorite things: red wine and dark chocolate. On a normal basis, we read studies saying these tasty indulgences might actually be good for us! Could this possibly be true? YES, it can!
Red wine contains resveratrol which is a natural polyphenol. It is found in red wine, grapes, chocolate and cocoa beans along with peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. It is considered an antioxidant and thought to be protective against things that contribute to cardiovascular disease like high total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, low HDL (good) cholesterol, blood clots due to plaque build-up, etc. Resveratrol is also thought to help reduce inflammation by preventing molecules known as “free radicals” from causing cellular damage. Red wine provides much more resveratrol than white wine due to the length of time the skin is left on the red grape during the wine making process. The grapes used to make white wine are removed before fermentation leaving it with lower levels of resveratrol. In addition, red wine made in cooler climates have the most resveratrol.
Anybody crave dark chocolate? It contains flavonoids called epicatechin and catechin that are good for you. Just two tablespoons of natural dark cocoa have more antioxidant (free radical fighting) capacity than four cups of green tea, 1 cup of blueberries and one and a half glasses of red wine! Now be careful, when dark chocolate turns to milk chocolate there is more sugar and less flavonoids making it less healthy and higher in calories. Dark chocolate is also high in calories, so taste, enjoy and put it away until tomorrow!
Here are a few tips on how you can sensibly knit red wine and dark chocolate into your day to make your heart happy this Valentine’s Day:
- Sip on 5 oz of red wine: For women, 5 oz of red wine is a serving and the American Heart Association says that is appropriate for women the majority of healthy women. Now ladies, measure! Many women fill their glass full, and though a glass, it might have 10+ ounces of red wine in it! Just because a little is good for you does not mean more is better. More can add up to lots of extra calories if you don’t watch out! So, measure and purchase smaller glasses!
- Try dark chocolate as part of a bar: Many protein bars include dark chocolate to add a little sweet and kill a craving for the protein bar eater. Many of these bars also contain fiber, protein and other vitamins and minerals, which can be a great way to get in your chocolate. Protein bars can be a great option when on-the-go, in the carpool line or in between meetings at work. The protein can help you feel full longer while the chocolate can satisfy your sweet tooth, win-win!
- Kiss your heart with dark chocolate: A kiss or two of dark chocolate is actually all you need to reap the benefits from the flavonoids that can protect the heart. Though many of us would rather eat the bag of chocolate kisses, revel in a kiss or two to help your heart and watch your waistline. Too much dark chocolate can add up to lots of calories, but a kiss can do you just right!
- Drizzle your fruit: Fruit, especially berries are high in fiber and packed with nutrients! Drizzling your strawberries, blueberries or even apples and bananas with a dazzle of dark chocolate is a great way to get an extra health benefit from chocolaty goodness!
- Wake up with dark chocolate coffee: Many people flavor their coffee with creamers sugar, artificial sweeteners, syrups and the like. Try dropping a dark chocolate kiss or two or mixing in a tablespoon or two of dark cocoa into your morning Joe to reap the benefits of dark chocolate and spice up your morning coffee!
-Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD