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You may already have a date for Valentine’s Day, so why not “make a date” with your heart this month in honor of American Heart Month? Some foods that are popular for igniting passion are also beneficial for your heart – for example chocolate and red wine.

What’s date night without a little glass of red wine? According to the Mayo Clinic, when enjoyed in moderation, the antioxidants in red wine may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. Some research shows that a particular compound, called resveratrol, may be linked to a reduced risk of several contributing factors to heart disease including obesity, diabetes, inflammation and blood clotting.

Chocolate was historically revered as a divine food for royalty, and it’s still a modern indulgence usually saved for special occasions. Now researchers from the University of Cambridge have reported that people who consume the highest levels of chocolate have a 37 percent lower risk of heart disease, and a 29 percent lower risk of stroke than those who ate the least chocolate. Research shows that the cocoa found in chocolate is rich in flavanols, powerful antioxidants that have a positive influence on vascular health, including helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and improving blood flow to the heart and brain. So how much chocolate should you enjoy? According to an article in the Huffington Post, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that adding one half an ounce of dark chocolate to an average American diet is enough to increase total antioxidant capacity by 4 percent, and lessen oxidation of LDL cholesterol. The darker the chocolate the more flavanols it typically contains, so skip the milk chocolate and go for the dark stuff!

Chocolate and Red Wine… Gotta Love It!

To learn more about the heart-healthy benefits of red wine, visit the Mayo Clinic here, and read the full Huffington Post article here.