Now don't go running out to the store to buy your favourite nougat filled, peanut encrusted, coconut crunchy treat. What I'm talking about is dark chocolate: plain and unprocessed. The more natural the chocolate (less processed) the better.
Even the really dark chocolate bars can be too processed sometimes.
It's the cocoa that has the real benefit, but cocoa is very bitter, so we often process it with sugars and creams to take away the harsh taste. The problem is, the more processed it is, the less benefit you get because there will be less antioxidants and flavonoids (the things in cocoa that help our hearts). Keep in mind we get there same things from lots of fruits, veggies and beans, but having a small piece (1oz) of very dark, low processed chocolate about 2-3 times/week can put you on the right track to a healthy heart. Too much chocolate will likely have the opposite effect as it can still be high in saturated fats. Try my hot cocoa recipe with dark cocoa powder for a real antioxidant boost!
A glass of wine/day can provide a great anti-oxidant effect for the heart. While it was originally thought that red wine was the best choice for heart health, white wines and beers are showing similar benefits now.
There is some evidence in animals research indicating that resveratrol which is found in red wine, may have an anti-inflammatory effect on our blood vessels, meaning there is less damage to our heart over time. This is still not confirmed though. Keep in mind, just like chocolate there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Excessive intake of alcohol can increase bad cholesterol in the body and increase the risk of blood clots. It's small moderate amounts that are beneficial.
That's right! A little romp in the sack with your honey can be good for your heart. Depending on how active you are in your love making you can burn anywhere between a few to a few hundred calories (Of course time is a factor as well). Not to mention regular cardio exercise can reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
Sex also improves mood and decreases stress and a reduction in stress is excellent for your heart!