Of all the special days on the calendar, I think Valentine’s Day has to be the healthiest. Think about it. Christmas has all those fattening cookies, fruitcake, and candy canes – not to mention the stress of shopping, wrapping, and paying off the credit cards. Thanksgiving is known for overeating and has pies, pies, pies. Halloween? Please. The Fourth of July is grilled meat (HCAs and PAHs anyone?) and ice cream. But Valentine’s Day is red wine, chocolate, and flowers.
The health benefits of drinking red wine in moderation have been studied for some time. Reds contain antioxidants called polyphenols (downloadable application note on the analysis of polyphenols in wine) that may help protect the lining of blood vessels in the heart. One polyphenol that has gotten much attention is resveratrol because it can reduce LDL (the bad cholesterol) and prevent blood clots. In addition, alcohol is thought to raise HDL (the good cholesterol), prevent artery damage caused by LDL, and reduce the formation of blood clots.
Chocolate–especially dark chocolate–also is abundant in antioxidants that have myriad health benefits. Studies have shown that consuming a moderate amount of chocolate each week can provide health benefits which could include lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduced memory decline, a reduction in heart disease risk and risk of strokes, and a lowering of stress levels. Even the fat in chocolate isn’t as bad for you as once believed. For example, oleic acid, found in chocolate, is a monounsaturated heart-healthy fat also found in olive oil. Stearic and palmitic acids are saturated fats found in chocolate but studies have shown that the former has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
Stop and smell the roses is actually good advice. A study conducted at Rutgers University showed that flowers are powerful mood elevators, eliciting a positive response in 100% of the participants. Even three days later, people who received the flowers were found to be happier than others in the study who received different items. Researchers at Harvard University found in a behavioral study that people feel less stress and more compassionate towards others when they are around flowers.
Like what you are learning?
So when you give your special someone that box of candy, pour him or her a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon wine, and present a bouquet of fresh flowers, you’ll not only score major relationship points but you’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing that you may be improving their health. That’s a sweetheart deal any way you look at it.
And, if you are looking for solutions for the analysis of antioxidants and lipids in various matrices, here are some downloadable application and poster notes on the topic:
- Application Note 20583, Determination of Catechins and Phenolic Acids in Red Wine by Solid Phase Extraction and HPLC, (downloadable pdf)
- Application Note 30173, Direct Analysis of Red Wine Using Ultra-Fast Chromatography and High Resolution Mass Spectrometry, (downloadable pdf)
- Poster Note 70533, An Improved Global Method for the Quantitation and Characterization of Lipids by High Performance Liquid Chromatography, (downloadable pdf)
Do you plan on giving your Valentine wine, roses, and dark chocolate? Will you tell them about the health benefits or do you think that would spoil the mood?