By Lara Evans Bracciante
Chocolate Does a Heart Good
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?”
Lighting a Fire, Dousing a Flame
Setting the mood with candles could mean setting yourself up for respiratory problems. According to Andrew Weil’s Self Healing newsletter, the burning of the fragrant oils in scented candles can create significant air pollution, potentially comparable to that produced by diesel fuel exhaust. The produced soot particles can lodge deep in the lungs, especially a concern for young children, the elderly, and those with asthma or other already established respiratory problems. Weil recommends unscented beeswax candles with cotton wicks when adding ambience.
The Gift of Massage
Having trouble finding just the right thing for your Valentine? The gift of massage expresses a concern for your partner's well-being and gives them a respite from the stresses of daily life. Many massage therapists sell gift certificates, so your loved one can make an appointment for a convenient time. The gift of massage is the perfect combination of luxurious and practical. To find a qualified massage therapist in your area, visit MassageFinder.