Love is in the air…along with the sweet smell of roses and chocolates. The reason is, what else, but because Valentine’s Day is here.
Now, aside from the fact that this day can be a struggle for men everywhere (what do you give the woman who has everything?) and possibly a source of dread for singles, there are definite perks to having some delectable (but moderate, of course) quantities of chocolate and laughter.
Dark chocolate and high blood pressure
Believe it or not, some studies have shown that dark chocolate actually has some health benefits associated with its flavor. A few studies even revealed that it may actually lower your blood pressure.
According to one study, 100 grams of dark chocolate consumed every day for three weeks lowered participants’ blood pressure by 5 points. To put that into perspective, some of the most commonly prescribed blood pressure medications (Lisinopril, Atenolol, etc.) are considered highly effective if they can lower blood pressure by 5-10 points. So, in dark chocolate lowering blood pressure by 5 points after just three weeks of consumption, you may wonder, “why can’t my medicine always taste this good?”
It’s important to note that 100 grams of chocolate a day is less than 4 ounces, so I’m not recommending you to eat an entire bag of Hershey’s Kisses. In addition, keep track of any added sugar in your blood pressure-reducing chocolate. As much as possible, you want the highest percent of dark chocolate—70% or higher—with the lowest amount of added sugar.
My funny Valentine
We all know the old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but is there really any truth to that? Several universities conducted studies to find out.
- Loma Linda University did a study that revealed that just 20 minutes of laughter can increase recall abilities by about 44% and significantly lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels in those ages 60-70.
- A study by Vanderbilt University revealed that 10-15 minutes of laughter can burn up to 45-50 calories.
- The University of Maryland showed that laughter can actually lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease.
There are many more studies on the health benefits of laughter, but the most well-known written account that I can recall was noted in a memoir of the late American journalist, Norman Cousins. Suffering from Ankylosing Spondylitis, an incurable autoimmune disease that causes joints to fuse together, Cousins was in constant, debilitating pain. But, he found that 10 minutes of laughter provided him with two hours of pain-free sleep. That’s a refreshing oasis for those in constant pain!
With that, have a piece of dark chocolate and share a laugh with your Valentine! Know that you’re helping your heart, as well as your mind, on multiple levels.
I can’t help myself. In light of the occasion and topic, I have to leave you with a couple of my best Valentine’s jokes, with the warning that “my best jokes” are often rather corny.
What do you call two birds in love?
What do squirrels give for Valentine’s Day?
Like I said, a bit corny. Happy Valentine’s Day, folks!
“Dark Chocolate and Blood Pressure: A Novel Study from Jordan.” Current Drug Delivery. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Nov. 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2017. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21696359>.
DeNoon, Daniel J. “Dark Chocolate Is Healthy Chocolate.” WebMD. WebMD, 27 Aug. 2003. Web. 13 Feb. 2017. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20030827/dark-chocolate-is-healthy-chocolate#1>.
Strean, William B. “Laughter Prescription.” Canadian Family Physician. College of Family Physicians of Canada, Oct. 2009. Web. 13 Feb. 2017. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2762283/>.
Shah, Yagana. “New Study Proves That Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 22 Apr. 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2017. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/laughter-and-memory_n_5192086.html>.
Griffin, R. Morgan. “Laughter: Good For Your Health.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter#2>.