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Chocolate and your health: Some sweet Valentine’s Day benefits

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Let’s be honest. Cupid is not really thinking about the healing properties of chocolate. He is more occupied with true love (as well as the fact that he’s naked). But us? We’re all about the chocolate.

We must exercise restraint, of course, because we couldn’t find a single study that says that eating an entire box of chocolates is good for you. (Pity.) However, if you manage yourself well this Valentine’s Day, you can enjoy your chocolate and come away a little bit healthier in the process.

A short tour of the science:

One of the largest recent studies was done by the Research Laboratories of the Catholic University in Campobasso, Italy, in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute of Milan. The findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, focused on inflammation. From a story in Science Daily:
"We started from the hypothesis," says Romina di Giuseppe, 33, lead author of the study, "that high amounts of antioxidants contained in the cocoa seeds, in particular flavonoids and other kinds of polyphenols, might have beneficial effects on the inflammatory state. Our results have been absolutely encouraging: people having moderate amounts of dark chocolate regularly have significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein in their blood. In other words, their inflammatory state is considerably reduced. The 17% average reduction observed may appear quite small, but it is enough to decrease the risk of cardio-vascular disease for one third in women and one fourth in men. It is undoubtedly a remarkable outcome.”

Chocolate amounts are critical, Giuseppe said. "We are talking of a moderate consumption. The best effect is obtained by consuming an average amount of 6.7 grams of chocolate per day, corresponding to a small square of chocolate twice or three times a week. Beyond these amounts the beneficial effect tends to disappear.”

OK. So, everything in moderation. We can live with that. And remember, we’re talking about dark chocolate here. Not milk chocolate or white chocolate. Dark chocolate even makes an appearance in the University of Michigan’s “Healing Foods Pyramid,” where these benefits are listed:

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Diane - It's great to know that chocolate has a lot of healthy properties. And I appreciate all the great links to learn more about this, especially the benefits of dark chocolate. But as I am writing this I know that Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and I can't wait to see what kind of chocolates are coming my way - healthy or not. It's just not Valentine's Day unless some great form of chocolate is a part of the day. I'll read the information in the links next week. :-) Pat

February 12, 2010 - 6:31pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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