Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

On February 14, there are lots of gifts exchanged between people who want to show their love. Many of us use this day as an excuse to over-indulge in chocolate. Remember: everything is okay in moderation. So here's your healthy alternative: DARK chocolate covered strawberries.

Chocolate and strawberries both contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are thought to improve immune function and lower the risk for infection and cancer. Antioxidants help protect our bodies from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are formed in simple body processes and can increase upon exposure to environmental contaminants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution or chemicals. Free radicals can damage cells and increase the risk for cancer, artery and heart disease, cataracts, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C. Just one-half cup of strawberries provides 50 milligrams of vitamin C. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin C is 75 milligrams for women and 90 milligrams for men. Vitamin C helps produce collagen which helps hold muscles bones and other tissues together, helps keep blood vessels firm to prevent bruising, helps keep your gums healthy, helps heal cuts and wounds and helps protect your body from infection.

Make sure the strawberries are dipped in dark chocolate - that is the key. NOT milk chocolate, and absolutely NO white chocolate! Dark chocolate contains more flavonoids. Flavonoids are naturally occurring compounds found in plant-based foods. The source of antioxidants in chocolate is flavonoids. Flavonoids may also reduce the risk of blood clots and heart disease by expanding the arteries and increasing blood flow.

And remember - just because it contains fruit, that doesn't mean you need to eat the whole box in one setting. Just one or two should do it. :)