Sweet Treats for a Healthy Heart
Alright, February! Let's do this. For me, this is the hardest winter month to get through. I don't know why - it just feels like the "cranky teenager" of the winter months. It's not January where everything is new and fun; it's not March, when you're looking forward to spring... it's in the middle - where it's just plain cold. AND I'm starting to dread the Daylight Savings time change that is rapidly approaching. Not even Valentine's day can cheer me up! But ok, my rant about dreary winter is over - just wanted to get that off my chest. (Since it's heart health month after all... hehe).
So, enter my favorite hibernation coping mechanisms - I eat, sleep, exercise and repeat. Since I gave up sugar after the holidays, I have felt tons better. Surprise, surprise, clinical research is showing that sugar is the main culprit when it comes to putting your health at risk. It can lead to a laundry list of health problems along with putting extra pressure on vital organs like the heart! I know I feel my best on a high fat and protein/low carb diet with no sugar. I occasionally use organic raw honey as a sweetener, but I don't eat or drink anything with added sugars (only naturally occurring). That's the best way to cut down on inflammation.
That being said, I'm not trying to totally rain on your Valentine's day parade! If you want to give yourself a V-day treat, focus on dumping the junk. Stay away from candy and anything with artificial sweeteners. Replace it with some fresh fruit and organic, high percentage (72% or higher) dark chocolate squares. Like this one. The higher the cocoa percentage in dark chocolate, the lower the sugar content. Cocoa also has great antioxidant benefits, meaning it can simultaneously bind free radicals in the system (aka toxins) and eliminate them. Therefore, its the most heart-healthy choice for a sweet treat!
Another fun fact about dark chocolate: the bitter taste of a high percentage is said to open the Heart meridian according to Chinese Medicine theory. No wonder chocolate-covered strawberries are such a fan favorite for all of the cupids out there! Pretty flowers are great for the heart too, just sayin'. Enjoy!