February is an awesome month! It is the month of love and romance and all fuzzy feelings. There’s days all throughout the month of February to remind us to love parts of us. There’s Valentine’s Day, a day on which we celebrate our romantic loves. There’s Black History month - celebrated every day throughout the month of February. There’s Heart Health Day, a day to raise awareness about heart disease. And, of course, there’s Love Eternal Day, a day set aside by Afrikan Goddess that asks black women to renew their love of themselves.
Of course, what better way to celebrate all these great events than with a box of chocolate? If there’s any time to forget that guilty feeling associated with an indulgence of milky, silky, mouth-watering chocolate, the month of February is it! After all, what are you really going to do about it? Tell your man you can’t accept that beautiful box of chocolates he thought to get you at the last minute because you’re watching your weight or your sugar intake? Of course not! And, you need not worry anyway; as long as you indulge in the right kind of chocolate, you’ll be just fine! Studies published in the American Medical Association Journal and research done by the Cleveland Clinic have shown that consuming a small bar of chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure and has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). So, chocolate is not only good for our taste buds, but also good for the heart. How about that?! Another excuse to indulge your chocolate cravings this month! This makes the month of February a month to celebrate chocolate too.
But, wait a minute! Before you go ripping off the wrappings and popping those delicious mounds of chocolate in your mouth, here are a few things you may want to know:
Darker is Better: For my darker-skinned sisters who never thought they would hear these words, well when it comes to chocolate, science supports the fact that “darker is better.” This is our moment of truth: dark chocolate – good, milky chocolate – not so much! How about that for the light-skinned sisters! I always knew there was something special about us chocolate colored babes.
Consume in Moderation: Chocolate is extracted from cocoa beans, which comes from the cocoa plant/tree and contains cocoa phenols. Cocoa phenols are the main ingredient known to lower blood pressure. Though good, like almost everything else we consume, dark chocolate must be consumed in moderation. Dark chocolate is a strong antioxidant and milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate, which can negate the potential health benefits derived from eating dark chocolate in moderation.
Not all Labels Reveal the Truth: Just because a bar of chocolate says “dark” does not mean it’s healthy. Chocolates made in Europe and Africa are generally richer in cocoa phenols than those made in the U.S. Look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peels or other flavorings. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat or other fillings. These fillings are just added sugar and fat which erase many of the benefits you get from eating darker chocolate.
So this Val’s Day, Heart Health Month, Black History month and Love Eternal Day, pry open that beautiful box of delicious, healthy, dark chocolate and celebrate love, life and the essence of your very existence. Happy Love to All!