Should You Include Chocolate This Valentine's Day?
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Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate our love for one another. Plus, it gives us an excuse to ask for things that we normally wouldn’t. When I think of Valentine’s Day though, I think of sweet treats, flowers, jewelry and cards. This especially goes for chocolate!

Why Chocolate?

Chocolate is one of those foods that is widely loved. In fact, Americans consume approximately 11 pounds of chocolate per year, which means that we consume roughly 20% of the chocolate produced every year. That is crazy! Although, it isn’t nearly as much chocolate as most Europeans consume.

So what makes chocolate so coveted with us? Well, it is not just the decadent flavor profile, but the aphrodisiac qualities. There are a few things that contribute to whether or not a food is considered an aphrodisiac, but in the case of chocolate, there are two main reasons why.

Scientific Reasons

Chocolate contains an amino acid that can assist with the triggering of sex hormones. This particular amino acid is:

  • L-citrulline (a precursor to L-arginine) – Foods that contain this powerful aphrodisiac are:
    • Watermelon, Cucumber, Pumpkin, Squash, Liver, Dark Chocolate, Garlic, Onion, Garbanzo Beans, Peanuts, Red Meat, Salmon, Soy, Almonds, Walnuts.

Not only does chocolate contain L-citrulline but it contains a specific mineral that assists with increasing the aphrodisiac effect.  This mineral is:

  • Zinc – Can be found in higher quantities in:
    • Grass Fed Beef, Dark Chocolate, Chicken, Yogurt, Lamb, Garbanzo Beans, Pumpkin Seeds, Cashews, Mushrooms, Spinach.

Health Benefits

Now that we have the science out of the way, we can discuss the health benefits of chocolate. Because contrary to popular belief, there are a few of them, especially if you are eating dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is anything that is 70% or higher. I personally prefer to eat dark chocolate that is closer to 85% or higher because I really don’t like the sugar in milk chocolate. I know, I know, there is something wrong with me!

So what are some of the health benefits? Let’s break them down:

  1. Flavonoids – These are powerful antioxidants. The percentage of flavonoids contained per 100 g of chocolate depends on the percentage of solids contained in the bar. So the higher the amount of cocoa solids, the higher the percentage of flavonoids.
  2. Dietary Fiber – 11 g of dietary fiber for every 100 g bar. This means that we get 3 g of dietary fiber for every 1 oz serving, which is almost double the dietary fiber in a piece of whole wheat bread. Crazy!
  3. Minerals – High in Iron (11.9 g per 100 g/ 58% – 70% RDA), Zinc (3.31 g per 100 g/ 30% – 41% RDA), Magnesium (228 g per 100 g/ 65% – 71% RDA) and Potassium (715 g per 100 g/ 15% – 20% RDA)

The Sweet Finale

Okay, so we now know some reasons why dark chocolate is good for us and why it is considered an aphrodisiac. These are all good reasons to eat chocolate. But the other good reason is simply that we just like it. The flavor, the consistency, how it makes us feel. All of those are great reasons to eat chocolate. In moderation, of course!

The latter is one reason why it is so widely given on Valentine’s Day. In fact, 5% of the total annual chocolate sales occurs during the week of Valentine’s Day. But, if you want to know the history of why chocolate has been consistently given as a gift on Valentine’s Day, then you have to read this article! The real history of the gift giving of chocolate is quite amazing.

Now that you are armed with all of this information as to why chocolate is so great, make your own decision as to how you plan to celebrate this year. I, personally, am not a really big chocolate fan unless it is really dark chocolate and it has to be in small quantities. That being said, I may still go out and find some ethically sourced dark chocolate to indulge in with my bottle of red wine (also high in flavonoids). That is, unless, Bryan brings me home one of his amazing desserts. In which case, I will forgo the chocolate all together!

However you choose to celebrate this year, just remember to enjoy the moment and simply being in each other’s company. And if you are not in a relationship currently, this still applies to you. Enjoy the moment and the chocolate!

How do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? Is some form of chocolate included in your grand plans?