It’s been a while since you went to the grocery store and didn’t see aisles lined with Valentine’s Day-themed stuffed animals, or since you flipped on the TV and didn’t catch a glimpse of a jewelry commercial. You’re feeling the pressure to find the perfect way to show your loved ones how much you care about them and to help your kiddos create the best handmade cards ever for their classmates. That’s right, folks… it’s Valentine’s Day season, which means it’s also basically chocolate season. Anyone with a sweet tooth is bound to be craving their favorite chocolate treats right about now, which we’re happy to report has a wellness upside.
Bulldoggers, break out the heart-shaped confetti and red balloons, because there are health benefits to eating chocolate and we think that deserves a party.
Check out these five health benefits of chocolate! These perks are bound to fuel your cravings on Valentine’s Day and every other day of the year.
1. Improved brain function: According to the smartypants team at Harvard Health, dark chocolate, in particular, offers a boost to long- and short-term memory. It also improves nerve, blood, and oxygen function in the brain.
2. Fiber: Fiber is a component of food that decreases cholesterol, supports weight management, controls blood sugar, and improves gastrointestinal health, per the Mayo Clinic. Believe it or not, chocolate is high in fiber!
3. Cardiovascular benefits: You may have always thought that chocolate warms your heart simply by being delicious, but it also offers some very real health benefits for the ‘ol ticker. Dark chocolate lowers your risk of heart disease, increases blood flow, and decreases blood pressure. All together, these factors can help contribute to better overall cardiovascular health.
4. Magnesium: Medical News Today says that this mineral works to prevent diabetes, minimize migraines, promote bone health, and reduce anxiety (hello, mental health!)… and it’s present in chocolate! Magnesium is also beneficial for cardiovascular health.
5. Antioxidants: These are the substances that fight against the damaging free radicals in your system, and you get that from a few bites of chocolate. Free radicals are chemicals that can damage genetic materials and cells. They’re bad news, so it’s pretty cool that dark chocolate and the antioxidants that come with it can help fight them off.
If you’re doing a happy dance over there, you’re certainly not alone. You can forget those worries that your sweet tooth will set you back on your health-related New Year’s resolutions! What’s not to love about the news that chocolate treats can actually be good for you?
TLDR: You should definitely grab some chocolate for the people you love this Valentine’s Day… and put out some clear signals that you’d love some in return. You can even buy some for yourself! After all, now that there’s proof of the health benefits of chocolate, there’s no reason to hold back.
Haley Halteman — a class leader at our Boulder studio and our in-house wellness guru — is here to tell us more about the link between chocolate and health! She’s a certified nutrition therapy practitioner, so she knows what she’s talking about. Here’s some of her inside scoop:
“Dark chocolate — 70 percent and higher — does, in fact, have some incredible health benefits. It’s high in antioxidants and magnesium, both of which are crucial for health. Often, when we crave chocolate, it’s because we are actually magnesium-deficient and our body is looking to fulfill that need.”
The health advantages of Valentine’s Day staples don’t end with chocolate, either! There are also benefits to drinking red wine, which is high in a plant compound called resveratrol. According to Haley, reservatrol shares many of the healthy properties of magnesium, and can reduce inflammation and promote liver, GI, and heart health. Toast your valentine, your BFF, or yourself this February, because that red wine in your glass has its share of wellness benefits!
Clearly, this is all fantastic news for chocolate and red wine lovers alike.
But don’t get carried away. Like, don’t start eating chocolate ice cream for breakfast every day.
We hate to say it, but moderation is key when it comes to wine and chocolate, no matter their health benefits. “Chocolate and wine as sources of magnesium and resveratrol need to be in moderation, because of the negative aspects they contain,” Haley tells us. “But, for Valentine’s Day, dark chocolate and red wine is the perfect combo to celebrate a holiday all about the heart. In moderation, they are good for the heart… both physically and emotionally.”
Before we leave you to your Valentine’s Day celebrations, we have one more wonderful tidbit of chocolate news. Drumroll, please… Chocolate milk makes for a fantastic post-workout drink (and not just because it tastes amazing).
Per the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, recent studies have proven that the protein content of chocolate milk makes it ideal for a sweat session cooldown. It has double the carb content of plain milk and sports drinks, and your tired muscles crave that after fitness. Chocolate milk is also high in water — to ward against dehydration — and helps your body refill its calcium, sodium, vitamin D, and sugar stores.
Ready to work up an appetite for your post-workout chocolate milk or another chocolatey treat? Check out our class schedules! (Villanova | Boulder | Malvern)
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Featured image: Michele Blackwell/Unsplash; Red wine image: Jeff Siepman/Unsplash; Chocolate milk image: Shoiab Ahmed/Unsplash