No matter what is going in our lives, whether we are sick or healthy, happy or sad, etc., LOVE is the one emotion we all need and seek. So do yourself a favor; to keep your "heart healthy", take care of yourself- inside and out!!
Show someone you love them today, or perform a "Random Act of Kindness"! (Everyone needs to feel special sometime, and doing something good for others ALWAYS does your heart good!)
Since 1963, February has been deemed "American Heart Month", a time when we are reminded of the risks of "Cardiovascular Disease" and stroke, (especially for women.) We all know that exercise is key to overall health, but it must be in conjunction with these other factors: Eating healthier, managing your blood pressure/ stress levels, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar levels, weight loss, and quitting smoking!
I've already "blogged" about the health benefits of chia seeds, and dry beans, and there are MANY other foods I will be educating you on as well! But for now, (since it's Valentine's Day), let's talk about.......CHOCOLATE!!
Yes, that velvety smooth, melt in your mouth, deliciousness, that jumps out at you on the shelves when you walk down the isles of every store this time of year! But in all actuality, is it really good for you? And if so, why?
First of all, not ALL chocolate is good for you! White chocolate is not even chocolate! (Contains the highest amounts of saturated fats and sugars. Your "higher quality" white chocolate will contain actual cocoa butter solids, which is derived from the cocoa bean.) Then we have milk chocolate- a true fan favorite of most, but unfortunately, not so healthy! Why? Because milk chocolate has a higher saturated fat content, and also contains more sugar. Not so good for our heart or our bodies, but doesn't mean that we can't have some in moderation, (the higher quality chocolate is usually a bit better because it contains a higher amount of cocoa solids, and combine it with almonds- even better!)
And then there's my favorite...dark chocolate! I realize it's not for everyone, (and my husband will tell you he's not a fan either!), but, it really is more "healthier". Dark chocolate contains less saturated fat, less sugar, and higher amounts of the cocoa solids, which in turn, contains the higher amounts of antioxidents. (Ideally, you want to go with a dark chocolate that contains the 65% cocoa solids or higher.)
It also contains several chemical compounds, (including that of PEA or phenylethylamine), that have a positive effect on mood and cognitive health. (No wonder we love eating it!) Other health benefits include: helps manage blood sugar levels, improves blood flow/ vascularity, slows signs of aging, may protect against different types of cancer, high in potassium, copper, iron, and magnesium, and has shown to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Now, this doesn't mean we can go out and consume a whole box of dark chocolates!! (We still have to moderate ourselves here!) However, it's recommended that consuming 2-3oz. of dark chocolate a day is feasible- along with a healthy diet and exercise of course! It's even better if you add some nuts, (like almonds or walnuts), or how about "chocolate covered strawberries" or other fruit? Sounds yumlicious to me- I may have to go make some now!!
Happy Valentine's Day!!
Sources: Mayo Clinic
American Heart Association