Posted on 02/11/2016 at 12:00 AM by Embria Health Sciences
By Dr. Lisa Metzgar, PhD:
Valentine’s Day is the day of love. It is also a great excuse to have a nice glass of wine and eat some yummy chocolate. Good news…there are some redeeming qualities to these Valentine’s vices that can ease some of the guilt of indulging. Of course with most vices, there are healthier choices than others…so why not go for the healthiest options.
Let’s start with some of the health benefits of wine. Firstly, moderate alcohol consumption, .02-.04 percent blood alcohol concentration, has been shown to boost the immune system.(1) Secondly, according to the Mayo Clinic, a glass of red wine can actually help reduce heart disease and raise HDL (our healthy cholesterol).(2) There is an antioxidant called resveratrol that has been shown to protect blood vessels, reduce our bad LDL cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and prevent blood clots which are all factors in heart disease.(2)
Of course, this is only true if you drink in moderation, meaning one glass of wine a day for women and men over 65, and two glasses a day for men under 65.(2) According to the Mayo Clinic, anything more than that can actually have the opposite affect causing high blood pressure, obesity risk, high triglycerides, liver damage, and heart weakness.(2) Some people are sensitive to the sulfites in red wines so you can try organic versions. Organic red wines are also free of chemicals that other wines contain due to fertilization and pest control of non-organic grape crops.(3)
So what kind of chocolate would you pair with your red wine? Dark chocolate is the best option as it contains a high amount of antioxidants(4) that are good for your immune system and much less sugar than the commercial milk chocolates. It also contains a decent amount of soluble fiber.
A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 67% of the RDA for Iron
- 58% of the RDA for Magnesium
- 89% of the RDA for Copper
- 98% of the RDA for Manganese
- It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.(5)
The cocoa bean is rated one of the highest when it comes to antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from free radical damage. Dark chocolate consumption on a regular basis (5x per week) has been shown in a study to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.(6) Dark chocolate has also been shown to enhance gut health. Researchers reported that certain bacteria in the stomach gobble the chocolate and ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart.(7)
Try making your own healthy version of dark chocolate:
- Homemade Dark Chocolate
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup organic cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup coconut milk dash of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon organic vanilla
- Stevia to taste
Heat the oil on med/high to thin it out; then add cocoa, coconut milk, vanilla, salt. It will thicken when you add the coconut milk so keep it warm while you add stevia a little bit at a time. (If you are using the stevia concentrated powder, just use a little dusting at a time and keep tasting it. If you add too much it will be more bitter. You can always add a little more coconut milk if it gets too sweet.)
Once you are satisfied with the taste, take it off the heat and pour it into molds or spread on a small plate and freeze. Even if left at room temp if will harden because of the coconut oil. You can add other ingredients to the chocolate before letting it set – coconut, almonds, walnuts, etc.
So enjoy a little indulgence this Valentine’s Day…it can be good for your health and immune system!