Protect your valentine’s heart with dark chocolate
February 9, 2017
  • /ACES
  • /ACES News

URBANA, Ill. - Valentine’s Day and chocolate are a classic pairing, but chocolate also has other positive connections to the heart.

Dietary flavonoids contained in dark chocolate may reduce blood pressure when eaten in moderation. In addition, dark chocolate has shown positive effects on the biochemistry of cholesterol and iron in the blood.

“The health benefits in dark chocolate are due to its high concentration of antioxidants found in cocoa-containing foods,” says Laura Barr, a nutrition and wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension. “Some findings show that the dairy component in milk chocolate may interfere with the absorption of these antioxidants. So, stick to the dark for the heart!”

While it makes a great choice for a special celebration, like Valentine’s Day, Barr recommends enjoying dark chocolate as a “sometimes food,” like any treat.

“If you’re looking for a non-traditional Valentine’s Day gift, consider a fun activity, like a brisk walk or ice-skating, that gets you moving while still having time together,” Barr says. “Regular exercise is needed for a strong heart, healthy body, and a good mood. A healthy diet and exercise are the power twins that will improve your life when practiced consistently. What better gift is there?”

University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems. For more information on U of I Extension programs in your county, visit