My Sweaty Valentine

runner-valentineIt’s Valentine’s Day! Yes, that wonderful day when we recognize our heart’s desire and express our affection with gifts, cards and candy. While it may feel a bit contrived, the thoughts and the gifts are nonetheless appreciated. Believe me, you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong end of this holiday.

This year, I decided to buy my wife an assorted box of chocolates. I know… it’s not the most original of gift ideas, but it’s a classic. And, I put some thought into it. You see, chocolate is not only a sweet and delicious gift, but it has some health benefits as well.

The Mayo Clinic recognizes chocolate as a heart-healthy choice. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is credited with reducing the risk factors associated with heart disease. Cocoa beans contain flavanols that have been proven to lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.

According to research funded by Mars (makers of chocolate bars, etc.), eating chocolate can improve cardiovascular health, skin health, mood, a brain function. Much of this research is by the chocolate industry, so more studies should be conducted to verify these claims. However, it’s common knowledge that chocolate has some real benefits.

Before celebrating this news and embracing your inner chocoholic, be aware that not all chocolates are created equal. Dark chocolate seems to have the most anti-oxidants and health benefits. Consumers should look for chocolates with fewer additives, and low amounts of fat and sugar. For example, a raspberry cream-filled milk chocolate is not the same as a piece of dark chocolate.

Chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation. You’ll want to look for dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 65% or higher, and eat no more than 3 ounces per day. This equates to roughly 450 calories, so you’ll have to give something else up in return if you don’t want the extra weight. Or, you could run it off. Each mile of running burns roughly 100 calories. So, using that logic, you can enjoy your chocolate as long as you keep running.

Happy Valentines Day!

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