Originally published in Massage Bodywork magazine, February/March 2004.
Copyright 2003. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
A box of chocolates for that special valentine may touch your loved one's heart -- literally. Chocolate is full of antioxidants called proanthocyanidins, the same compounds believed to be responsible for red wine's heart-health properties. Proanthocyanidins have been shown to help reduce excess blood platelet aggregation, which can damage blood vessel walls and lead to stroke or heart attack.
Furthermore, the proanthocyanidins in chocolate may curb an overactive immune system, which can cause chronic inflammation (indicative of heart disease), as well as arthritis, eczema, cancer and carpal tunnel syndrome. They also enhance the efficacy of the antioxidant-rich vitamins C and E, as well as beta-carotene.
Bear in mind, not all chocolates are created equal. To get the most health benefits from your cocoa fix, choose dark or semi-sweet chocolate low in sugar with few added ingredients and no hydrogenated fats or oils. For these reasons, imported and organic varieties make the best box o' chocolates when posing that age-old question, "Will you be mine?"