Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Foods

Happy Valentine's Day!!! 2013

Of course one of the best foods during Valentine's Day is dark chocolate but many of us do not know that the strawberry is one of the best foods, loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals to boost our immune system.  Many of us are aware of the health benefits of dark variety of chocolate but here is a review.

1) Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Heart

Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). 

2) Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Brain

Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. Dark chocolate also helps reduce your risk of stroke. 
Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you're falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.
Dark chocolate also contains caffeine, a mild stimulant. However, dark chocolate contains much less caffeine than coffee. A 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine, compared to the 200 mg found in an eight ounce cup of coffee.

3) Dark Chocolate Helps Control Blood Sugar

Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body's insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won't cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.

4) Dark Chocolate is Full of Antioxidants

Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant rich foods like dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging.

5) Dark Chocolate Contains Theobromine

Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which has been shown to harden tooth enamel. That means that dark chocolate, unlike most other sweets, lowers your risk of getting cavities if you practice proper dental hygiene.
Theobromine is also a mild stimulant, though not as strong as caffeine. It can, however, help to suppress coughs.

6) Dark Chocolate is High in Vitamins and Minerals

Dark chocolate contains a number of vitamins and minerals that can support your health. Dark chocolate contains some of the following vitamins and minerals in high concentrations:
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Magnesium 
  • Iron
The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium in chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. 

Health Benefits for the Strawberry

1) Antioxidants
Strawberries contain a chemical compound called phenols. Anthocyanin, a particular phenol abundantly found in strawberries, lends the rich red color to the fruit. Though anthocyanin is known to have antioxidant properties within the fruit, it is debated as to whether the antioxidant agents in anthocyanin-rich foods can be absorbed into the body once digested. Fortunately, however, it is known that when anthocyanin-rich foods are consumed, the body's uric acid levels increase, which serves as an antioxidant agent.

2) Anti-Inflammatory
The phenols in strawberries also fight against many inflammatory disorders, such as osteoarthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis, by inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) in the same way that the drugs aspirin and ibuprofen do. Strawberries, however, do not carry unwanted side effects like stomach and intestinal bleeding.

3) Anti-Cancer The combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents found in strawberries is well-known to fight against the onset of many different forms of cancer. Thanks to the vitamin C, folate, and the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol that they also contain, strawberries are a delicious defense against potentially cancerous cells.

4) Healthy Eyes
The Archives of Opthalmology recently published a study in which three or more servings of strawberries (and other fruits) per day can decrease the possibility of contracting age-related macular degeneration by over one-third.

5) The Vigorous Vitamin C
One cup of strawberries contains an incredible 136% of the RDA of vitamin C, an effective antioxidant that can help lower blood pressure, ensure a healthy immune system, and ward off the development of age-related ocular diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

6)Magnificent Manganese
One cup of strawberries contains 21% of manganese, an essential nutrient that acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. By increasing the levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), the enzyme responsible for protecting mitochonrdria exposed to oxygen, manganese not only helps to fight the battle against free radicals and oxidative stress, but also lessens cellular inflammation -- another cause of numerous cardiovascular diseases.

7) Bone Health
Manganese is also great for the bones, helping in bone building and maintaining proper bone structure. The potassium, vitamin K, and magnesium in strawberries are also important for bone health.

So, make Valentine's Day a healthy day, not only by telling the one you love how you feel about them, but share some "not so guilty" food pleasures while doing it.

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