By Nutritionist Blogger Jeni Tackett, RD, LD
This Valentine’s Day, give your honey a gift that won’t sabotage the diet plan. Massages, movies, yoga classes and flowers are non-edible gifts that make thoughtful treats indeed!
Other thoughtful treats – if the diet can accommodate it – include dark chocolate and red wine. Both contain flavonoids known as polyphenols. These compounds in dark chocolate and wine may help lower blood pressure, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, and reduce the risk of blood clots.
How much dark chocolate should you eat?
Most studies of the health benefits of dark chocolate included 1.3-3 ounces of dark chocolate per day or every other day. The health benefits from dark chocolate come from cocoa, so make sure you are purchase a bar made with at least 70% cocoa beans. The more bitter dark chocolate has more cocoa and is better for your heart health.
Unfortunately for milk chocolate fans, the health benefits of milk chocolate are not as great. The healthy flavonoids come from cocoa which is found in a much lower level in milk chocolate. Dark chocolate typically contains 2 to 3 times as many flavonoids as milk chocolate.
Word of caution: dark chocolate is calorie dense (1.5 ounces of dark chocolate = 200 calories). The health benefits from cocoa are lost if you gain weight by adding chocolate to the diet. Balance your added calorie intake by reducing the portions of other foods in the diet and/or increasing physical activity (which is very heart healthy).
How much red wine should you drink?
Do not start drinking alcohol to obtain the health benefits. Polyphenols are also found in blueberries, artichokes, plums, and coffee. Red wine contains a polyphenol called resveratrol which may be protective against blood clots. If you enjoy red wine, drink in moderation:
1 drink/day for women or 5 ounces of red wine (125 calories)
2 drinks/day for men or 10 ounces of red wine (250 calories)
Word of caution: drinking alcohol increases your appetite and reduces your judgment. I call alcohol the “double whammy” because it contains calories and results in people eating more food. Be aware if you drink wine that you may end up eating more at your meals or snacks.
|Meet Jeni Tackett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutrition Blogger. Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Unity Point-Trinity and Two Rivers YMCA. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition. You can read Jeni’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|