If you are looking to make a delicious, but healthy Valentine’s Day treat for someone special, try dark chocolate covered strawberries. Strawberries not only look like a heart-shaped valentine, they actually have heart protecting qualities, as well as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. They are filled with vitamin C and antioxidants, which prevent oxygen damage from free radicals in your body’s cell structures and organs, and minimize the effects of aging. By dipping them in dark chocolate you are piling on the health benefits. And here’s how:
Chocolate is made from cacao beans (cocoa beans). The chocolate making process destroys up to half of the flavonoids in the cocoa beans, which are the antioxidants in chocolate. However, dark chocolate is produced to retain 95% of its flavonoids. The higher percentage of cocoa in your dark chocolate, the more beneficial it is for your health. Studies and clinical trials have proven that flavonoids slow the processing of "bad" LDL cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, help prevent plaque formation in arteries, and improve blood flow. By providing good blood flow the strain on your heart is reduced. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, preventing your blood sugar from spiking after eating it. Lastly, dark chocolate affect’s your brain too, by improving mental function and elevating your mood. If you want to let someone know just how much you care about them, make them some of these sweet and healthy treats this Valentine’s Day.
This post prepared by fitness professional and dietetics graduate student Jacqueline Scaramella, CPT