The best Valentine for your heart

Valentine’s Day, benefits of dark chocolate, heart health, seasonal celebrations, sweets, chocolate and cardiovascular health, chocolatiers,

One of February’s top holidays for marketers is Valentine’s Day, so it’s no coincidence that the month is also dedicated to heart health. And while it would seem illogical that chocolate could be healthy, studies prove otherwise. In small amounts (note that) chocolates containing 70% cocoa or more, do the heart (and mind) good.

Armed with information from scientific studies, Adam Geileskey, the head of chocolate development at the Hotel Chocolat chain, reports:

“There are naturally occurring chemicals in chocolate that are good for you. The darker the chocolate, the higher it will be in substances associated with physical and emotional well-being.”

Good for the heart

According to Cochrane Collaboration, dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure. A study in the Journal of the American Heart Association offers evidence of another possible benefit: improving vascular health by increasing blood flow. The Cleveland Clinic echos other studies and confirms that “you no longer need to feel guilty if you enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate once in a while.”

Thank you flavonoids and polyphenols for the beneficial cardiovascular effects.

Good for the psyche

The psychological effects are tied to theobromine, a stimulant that increases blood flow and serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of love, and described as ‘a naturally occurring love drug.’ Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine which releases endorphins and increases the activity of dopamine. When combined, they produce the euphoric feeling of being in love.

Tastes good and good for you

Let’s face it, chocolate is just plain good. And good chocolate is oh so rich and decadent. But NYU Langone and the Mayo Clinic stress: If you want to add dark chocolate to your diet, the important point is

M O D E R A T I O N.

Healthy benefits can be had from eating small amounts.

Where to get the goods

With the facts in place, here are some of my favorite chocolatiers, MarieBelle being my most favorite, but they are all spectacular. Click on the individual blocks to visit their websites.

In New York:

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And beyond:

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Photo illustration: © 2015 Janet Giampietro / Photo with background removed: Windell Oskay  used under (CC BY 2.0)

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