February is Heart Month and February 14th is Valentine’s Day.
It is great to focus on heart health for a week or a month. In truth, heart health is a daily affair, as is skin health and your overall well being. I have particularly enjoyed putting together this blog because it focuses on a few of my favorite treats!
Sinfully delicious! Decadent! To die for! As Valentine’s Day approaches and chocolate gift boxes are flying off store shelves, it is a great time to extoll the heart and skin healthy benefits of chocolate. Increase blood flow, less platelet stickiness and clotting, decrease bad cholesterol….what’s not to like?
A few points to keep at hand:
* 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate per day for 2 weeks was shown in a research study to significantly drop blood pressure in hypertensives. Bad cholesterol was significantly decreased as well.
* Supple, smoother skin with less scaling, and redness when exposed to ultraviolet light? Yes, please! Cocoa and dark chocolate are rich in flavonoids (potent antioxidant), which are thought to absorb UV light , increase blood flow to the skin and help protect skin, thereby improving skin’s appearance.
* Chocolate as an aphrodisiac! Definitely, maybe.
A survey of 143 women who ate chocolate every day, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (yes, there is such a journal!!), showed that they seemed to have more sex drive and an easier time reaching orgasm…….
Not so fast thought. A closer look at the study group showed that it was the younger women who reported benefits, so that it may not have been youth, not chocolate that led to the positive association. Now, if Godiva Chocolate Chunk brownies or Dark Chocolate Truffles get you in the mood, don’t let a bit of science get in your way.
* Wine, Polyphenols, Resveratrol for Heart and Skin
Salut! For men, two glasses of wine ( Pinot Noir) is recommended, and for women, one glass. That, in addition to daily use of sunscreen, is great for your skin and heart. Resveratrol and polyphenols, like flavonoids and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-DNA damaging effects which are protective to the heart and skin. So raise your glass to skin protection from ultraviolet light damage and higher HDLs.
* Some like beer and peanuts and others like wine and almonds.
Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and a very good source of protein, fiber, iron , potassium, folic acid, phosphorus and zinc. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that works to protect cell membranes and inactivate free radical that can potentially destroy cells and lead to skin aging and heart disease.
*Eat your Reds for your Skin and Heart- Lycopene and Tomatoes
Whether raw, with mozzarella, basil and a splash of olive oil, sauced, juiced or as hot or cold soup, tomato is rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and protects your skin and heart cell from oxidative damage. You need the equivalent of one cup of cooked tomatoes per day for best health benefits, like reduction of sun damage by 35%.
Bonus for men; new research shows potential benefits for prostate health and male infertility.
Your best heart and glow meal? An appetizer of sliced heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella with an olive oil drizzle, tomato soup, a glass of Pinot Noir, Malbec or similar paired with your main course, and a 70% dark chocolate based dessert.