Surprising Health Facts of Foods Associated with Valentine’s Day
By Mary Perry, RD
Say “I love you” by giving your sweetheart foods that are not only delicious but good for their health as well.
- Cocoa and chocolate pack a powerful nutritional punch thanks to naturally occurring antioxidants called flavanols.
- These flavanols help protect against the damage caused by harmful molecules in the body called free radicals.
- Studies show chocolate may help to protect the heart by raising good HDL cholesterol while lowering the bad LDL cholesterol; lowering high blood pressure; and reducing the risk of blood clots that cause heart attacks or strokes.
- To get the most antioxidants, look for non-alkalized or lightly alkalized cocoas and dark chocolate made with at least 70% cocoa bean or “cacao.”
- While chocolate can boost your mood, just remember to keep portions moderate since chocolate is still high in saturated fat and added sugar.
- Oysters are an excellent source of zinc and iron, both which support the immune system.
- Oysters are also a significant source of Vitamin B12 which helps to create new cells and promote healthy nerves.
- Also a good source of magnesium and a moderate source of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to lower triglycerides.
- Six medium oysters have only 57 calories and almost 6 grams of protein.
- White or red wine in moderate amounts may offer some heart-healthy benefits.
- Plant substances in grapes, such as resveratrol (flavonoid) and tannins, may contribute to these benefits by:
- Protecting against heart disease by boosting the “good” HDL cholesterol while helping to prevent the “bad” LDL cholesterol from forming arterial plaque.
- It is also thought to help blood platelets to be less “sticky” to prevent the clot formation that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
- Just make sure to enjoy wine in moderation – one 5-ounce glass of wine daily for women; two for men.
- If you’re a tea-totatler, drinking grape juice may offer some of the same heart-healthy benefits.
- Strawberries are a fruit valentine to your health.
- Strawberries are rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, and are a natural anti-inflammatory that promote a healthy heart and lower your risk of cancer.
- Strawberries are very low in calories, fat, and sodium yet high in fiber. One cup of strawberries is only about 45 calories and has 3 grams of fiber yet provides more than 100% of your daily value of vitamin C – a natural immunity booster and wrinkle fighter.
New Healthy Foods to Try for Valentine’s Day
- Pronounced ah-sigh-e.
- This unusual berry is the newest trend in superfoods and is most popularly found in smoothies at your local juice bar while the pulp can be found in the frozen food section of health and natural food stores.
- Resembling the love child of a blueberry and grape, the small, deep purple Açaí berry is harvested from the Amazon tree plant in the rainforests of Brazil.
- Its unique taste is a cross between berries and chocolate.
- This berry is a nutritional powerhouse as it boasts ten times more antioxidants that grapes and twice that of blueberries.
- Rich in heart healthy monounsaturated fat, it also contains vitamin A, is rich in vitamin C, and has trace amounts of calcium and iron, and dietary fiber.
- Used in Asian medicine as a sexual herbal tonic, to fortify the immune system, and to improve longevity, this bright reddish-orange fruit is most often seen in juices and in dried, chewy raisin-like texture and form in cereals and trail mixes.
- Just 5 tablespoons of dried berries has only 90 calories, but is a significant source of Vitamin A, C and a good source of iron, calcium, and fiber .
- Along with beta-carotene, goji berries are rich in the antioxidants zeaxanthin, and lycopene that help protect your eyesight and prevent age-related decline in vision – the better to see your sweetheart in the candlelight.