Dark chocolates, red wine and strawberries may be Valentine's Day favorites, the good news is that they can be beneficial for your loved one's heart too.
Kim Sasso, RD, who regularly counsels patients on achieving better nutrition and weight loss at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care, said that many favorite Valentine's Day indulgences have amazing health benefits that are supported by research. Dark chocolate, in particular, is rich in a group of antioxidants called flavanols, which may help lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting and lower LDL cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is the "bad" cholesterol that collects in the walls of blood vessels. The most beneficial dark chocolate has 70 percent or higher cocoa content.
Other foods rich in flavanols include wine, tea, fruits and vegetables. Sasso said that offering your sweetheart a fresh, juicy strawberry swirled in dark chocolate would be a gift of love as well as for health, as strawberries are excellent sources of vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, manganese and potassium.
Berries also contain significant amounts of phytonutrients and flavonoids called anythocyanins, which reduce the risk of coronary disease and protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease, said the nutritionist.
Sasso continued, in addition to this, red wine especially has been found to contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease, and also reduces the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent according to a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.