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Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’

It’s rare to find anyone who doesn’t like chocolate. Most people love that smooth velvety texture and unique taste. The three main choices are dark, milk, or white chocolate. Several other available varieties include baking, bittersweet, cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate and more.

Chocolate comes from seeds inside the fruit, called a pod, of the cacao tree. The football shaped pods vary in color; green, yellow, orange, red, purple, or maroon. Trees grow mostly on small cocoa farms tended by family members. Farmers clip pods by hand, split them open, and pull fifty to sixty deep purple seeds from the sweet white pulp and juice. After harvest, farmers send beans to factories worldwide for roasting, grinding, and pressing.

In the past few decades, chocolate has been recognized not only for its flavor but also as a contributor to a healthy diet. Chocolate is abundant in flavonoids, thereby rendering the same health benefits. Some claims include:

  • improved blood flow
  • reduced risk for heart disease
  • lowered blood pressure
  • decreased mortality
  • lowered risk of stroke

Additionally, chocolate may improve mood, which most any woman knows without reading the research. However, a study published in 2012 found that subjects given chocolate candy reported higher levels of agreeableness. A 2013 study found that cocoa flavonoids increased positive moods and reduced anxiety in healthy middle-aged adults. Likewise, it may improve memory.

Before you gorge on Valentine chocolates, remember they have sugar added for taste and are calorie laden. Healthy diets advise eating in moderation and include chocolates as part of the discretionary calories for the day. Most women of normal weight can choose up to 300 discretionary calories daily from sources of extra fat or sugar. Of that amount, limit chocolate candies to 50-100 calories which is equivalent to about two or three small pieces. Let it melt in your mouth to savor the pleasure. Enjoy!

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Who doesn’t enjoy a thoughtful remembrance from that special someone on Valentine’s Day? Sure, we’re delighted with red roses or drool over Godiva’s, but what better gift could you give your significant other than a healthy heart—your healthy heart?

February is American Heart Month. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons against cardiovascular disease. They recommend the following simple steps for optimum physical well-being.

  • Choose a variety of foods from all food groups each day in the following quantities (based on a 2000 calorie diet).
    • 6-8       Grains with at least half from whole grain sources
    • 4-5       Vegetables—including sufficient green and yellow varieties
    • 4-5       Fruits—especially those with high vitamin C levels
    • 2-3       Cooked lean meat, poultry, or seafood
    • 2-3       Fats/oils
    • Nuts, seeds, legumes, 4-5 servings per week.
  • Watch serving size. Many consume too many calories because they eat excessive amounts. Consider the following as a guide to portion control.
    • Grains:            dinner roll—Yo-yo; cereal—baseball; pasta—tennis ball
    • Vegetables:     green salad—baseball; cooked vegetable—small fist; potato—computer mouse
    • Fruits:              light bulb
    • Meats:              three ounces poultry, beef, or pork—deck of cards; fish—checkbook
    • Fats/oils:        1 tablespoon tub margarine—three thumb tips; two tablespoons salad dressing—shot glass
    • Nuts:               one-ounce—cupped palm of medium-sized hand
  • Curb the amount of nutrient-poor foods.
    • Choose less fatty or fried foods
    • Drink smaller amounts of beverages with added sugar
    • Strive to limit sodium to no more than 1,500 mgs per day
    • Reduce intake of trans-fats and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
    • Choose fat-free dairy products
  • Use as many calories as you take in. Remember that the only way to lose weight is to take in fewer calories than you use. To maintain a healthy weight, balance the amount of calories you eat with appropriate activity to burn up those calories.

You have only one heart. Use these suggestions to help assure yours will be healthier to celebrate Valentines 2013.

 

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Nutrition-Center_UCM_001188_SubHomePage.jsp

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