Valentine's Day may be best known for romantic dates, precious gifts, boxes of chocolate, and bottles of red wine, but this sexy celebrated holiday doesn't just melt your heart, it can actually keep your heart strong and healthy.
Love: Research has demonstrated that being in a supportive, loving relationship not only leads to increased happiness and wellbeing, it is also a protective factor against cardiovascular disease. Even better, recent research suggests that regular romps in the sheets will improve your health by easing stress and boosting your immune system. (Read more on sex and your heart!)
Chocolate: Another proven stress reliever that is also good for the heart is dark chocolate. A study published in November 2009 showed that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. Previous studies have indicated that the flavonoids, or antioxidants, in chocolate can lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels as well as raise endorphins and a feeling of pleasure – all of which promote a healthy heart.
Wine: Red wine – with its high antioxidant levels – has long been touted for its heart-helping benefits. One glass per day for women (two glasses per day for men) can decrease the risk of heart attack, raise HDL (good) cholesterol, prevent the formation of LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood clots, and even reduce the damage to blood vessels caused by fat deposits.
Combine love, chocolate and wine and you've got the recipe for a romantic Valentine's Day that will keep your and your mate's hearts beating strong for years to come.
Luscious chocolates and lip-smacking wonderful wines that make you groan with delight are a sure-fire match to stoke your Valentine's Day romance. To guarantee a successful evening, turn down the lights and turn on your favorite mood music. Throw soft, cuddly blankets on the floor and slip on something comfortable yet very sexy. Set a variety of dark chocolates – or just your favorite – on a plate, pour a couple glasses of complementary red wine, and enjoy all the nibbles and sips as the evening heats up.
Specific chocolates belong with specific wines, just like certain foods go best with certain wines.
Micah Carr-Hill, the head of taste for Green & Black's Organic Chocolate suggests the following chocolate and wine pairings:
Green & Black's Toffee and Zinfandel
Marrying three of life's best pleasures, this chocolate, toffee and Zinfandel combo will send you into a delicious swoon. The wine's rich, dark-fruit characters accentuate the chocolate's buttery, sweet toffee flavors.
Green & Black's Dark 85% and Syrah
An intense pair, the Syrah's complexity and sturdy structure softens and enhances the bold flavors of the dark chocolate. This is a chocolate and wine pairing that will make you groan in delight.
Green & Black's White and Chardonnay
Not a dark chocolate or red wine fan? This is the match for you. The silky, creamy texture and vanilla finish of this white chocolate is a knee-weakening partner for the tropical fruit and hint of oak in a classic Chardonnay. Take note, however, white chocolate does not deliver the same heart-healthy benefits of dark chocolate.
Green & Black's chocolates are available nationwide at select natural food stores and supermarkets. To find a retailer near you, visit www.GreenandBlacks.com.
The chocolatiers at Bridge Brands Chocolates in San Fransisco have an equally pleasurable chocolate and wine pairing package for your Valentine's Day nibbling and sipping. To take any guesswork out of which chocolates go best with certain wines, Bridge Brands offers a line of chocolates aptly named CocoaVinoso, a delectable line of premium dark chocolates made with specific wines in mind.
The best chocolate and wine pairings, according to Bridge Brands chocolatiers:
You can find CocoaVinoso at www.BridgeBrandsChocolate.com along with many other premium collections of chocolate, including Book Lover's Chocolate, Chocolate by Numbers, GAIA Organic Chocolate and more.
When it comes to the most delicious chocolate and wine pairings for you and your date, it truly does come down to a matter of taste. Use the above pairing suggestions as a guide, then let your own chocolate and wine desires lead the way. And keep in mind: Valentine's Day isn't the only occasion when an evening of love, chocolate and wine is in order for a heart-healthy date.
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