When you think of Valentine’s Day, you likely picture giant teddy bears, a dozen roses…and the obligatory heart-shaped box of chocolates. But with more and more people turning their attention to their health, giving sugar-filled variety chocolates may be less appreciated this year. If you’re stuck without a clue how to show your affection this Valentine’s Day, rest assured that there is still an easy solution. Instead of choosing no chocolate, just choose the right dark chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Is King
You don’t have to think twice when you choose a treat that is both delicious and healthy for you. There are many health benefits that dark chocolate offers, and because it has a reputation for being of a much higher quality than other types of chocolate, you’re likely to score a few brownie points for thoughtfulness. Want to know why dark chocolate will be your new Valentine’s go-to?
Dark chocolate has been proven to improve the health of your cardiovascular system, which is important in a country where heart disease is the number one killer overall. Dark chocolate contains certain nutrients that help the arteries remain flexible, which helps prevent the build up of plaque and keeps blood pressure down. It can also prevent atherosclerosis, lower your risk of stroke, and help improve the movement of white blood cells throughout your system. Protect your loved one’s heart by showing your heart with dark chocolates.
Dark chocolate is also linked to a wide variety of mental acrobatics. Many studies show that regular consumption can help improve cognitive function, leading to better memory, better reasoning ability, better vocabulary, and overall better attention span. In fact, dark chocolate consumption has been linked to a reduction in memory decline in the elderly. A Harvard study showed that dark chocolate improved blood flow to certain parts of the brain that deal with memory and overall health, meaning that one day, dark chocolate could lead us to a better understanding of, and cure for, Alzheimer’s Disease.
Eating sweets are often to blame for minor acne breakouts, but that is not the case when it comes to dark chocolate. The antioxidants present in dark chocolate, called flavonols, actually fight skin damage, improving the condition of skin rather than making it worse. While you can’t just eat up some chocolate and then head to the beach sunscreen-free, dark chocolate has been shown to fight the free radicals that cause sun damage at a cellular level.
Everyone has a little bit of stress in their lives, and these days, stress is just as dangerous at heart disease. In fact, stress has been linked to over a dozen serious diseases and illnesses, showing up again and again as a suspected cause of the issue. Dark chocolate contains a chemical that allows the brain to better produce feel-good endorphins to reduce stress. Studies have shown that this process has helped pregnant mothers have healthier pregnancies, and helps others reduce their chances of becoming ill or feeling overwhelmed.
Fall in Love
What is the point of giving out chocolates on Valentine’s Day, anyway? For most people, the sweet treat is a representation of love – a cute and delicious way to let someone know that you care. But for many, the act goes much deeper. Remember back to childhood, when you nervously slipped your crush an anonymous valentine, hoping the act would somehow lead to the confession of mutual feeling you’d always been waiting for?
Adults do the same thing today, even if we are more straight forward about it. And good news! Dark chocolate can act as your wingman. The same chemical that makes your brain less stressed also creates a reaction in the brain that mimics the sensation of falling in love. When women say they “love” chocolate, they are telling the truth! So this year, if you want your significant other to fall a little deeper in love with you, boost their brain chemicals with a little bit of dark chocolate.
Best Choices for Valentine’s Day Treats
Now that you know that dark chocolate can have such a profound effect on the mood and health of your Valentine, you’re probably planning to stock up a few bars. The best choice is something higher in cocoa. Over 60% is a good place to start, but if the object of your affection can handle the slightly more bitter 70% bar, the effects are even more pronounced. Our favorite is Ghirardelli Sea Salt Soiree and Caramel.
It’s also a good idea to look for candies that are low in sugar, as the sugar content can effectively cancel some of the heart-health benefits and diabetes-fighting powers of the dark chocolate. Go ahead and indulge in chocolate this Valentine’s Day – just be a little bit smarter when showing your love.