Whether you’re attached or single, make Valentine’s Day a time for a little healthy indulgence.
Are you treating your date to some decadent meal, with wine and chocolates as you snuggle together on the sofa. Or if you’re single, or can’t be with your partner, there’s no reason why you can’t celebrate with friends or family who you love too! It beats eating chocolate home alone if you’re feeling lonesome this Valentine’s Day.
Indulgence is what Valentine’s Day is all about. But did you know a little indulgence can also be good for you?
The health benefits of dark chocolate
Let’s face it, chocolates are the face of Valentine’s Day. But what if you’re trying to be healthy, and someone buys you a box?
Well, first, we are firm believers in having a little bit of what you fancy every now and then (and when better than on Valentine’s Day?).
And second, it could actually be better for you than you think (providing it’s good quality dark chocolate and you don’t eat the lot in one sitting!). The many health benefits include reducing blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health.
Another thing we love about dark chocolate (not that we need any more encouragement!) is how wonderfully it teams with healthy fresh, fruity berries. Strawberries dipped in melted chocolate anyone?
Spices have been used to spice up our love lives since ancient times. Cardamom and coriander are mentioned as aphrodisiacs in Arabian Nights. And in early Hindu cultures, it was believed nutmeg’s warming properties stimulated sexual appetites – to mention just a few.
All this could just be the stuff of legend as scientific studies are thin on the ground. But there are plenty of other health benefits associated with spices for us all to enjoy.
For a start, spices are a great way to pep up your food and add flavour without relying on salt or sugar. Studies also show they can have a range of other health benefits, from boosting brain function to immune system support – and yes, there’s even the odd study showing an increase in sex drive. Fenugreek and saffron have both been linked with increased libido.
That doesn’t mean opting for a greasy takeaway as your Valentine indulgence. It won’t do your health any favours and if you’re looking for romance there’s nothing like a heavy curry for making you feel a bit less than romantic! But a delicious veg-packed, aromatically spicy meal could hit exactly the right note, and maybe raise the temperature in the bedroom this Valentine’s day?
Oysters – not just the food of love
We all know about the libido-boosting powers of oysters. But there’s even more to this aphrodisiac than meets the eye.
Oysters contain more zinc than any other food per serving. Plus, they are one of the most nutrient-packed foods, with the lowest calories to serving size, making them a great way to indulge guilt-free.
Also, oysters also contain high levels of omega 3, found to help reduce our levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol – which could lower our risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The art of eating oysters can also be a lot of fun – and there’s nothing like a laugh for boosting those happy hormones and feeling close to others.
Relax over a glass of wine
OK, so we may be watching our alcohol intake more carefully, following the government’s new alcohol guidelines. But if you’re not ready to ditch the booze entirely, Valentine’s Day is one time when a little indulgence might feel worthwhile.
We may no longer be able to justify drinking a small glass of red wine for the good of our health. But if enjoying a glass with our loved ones helps conversation and enjoyment flow, or puts us in the mood for romance, it could boost our wellbeing and possibly our love life in other ways.
Although, of course, beyond the ‘sweet spot’ of a couple of drinks the effects can be reversed!
If you’re not up for a fancy meal out (or Valentine’s Day inflated prices!) and would rather spend an evening snuggling with your Valentine on the sofa or at home with friends, that’s OK too.
Studies show the oxytocin released by human contact, such as hugging, cuddling and having sex, has a wide range of benefits – from relieving pain, lowering blood pressure and helping protect against stress.
And if you’re in the fortunate position to try, just an hour of passionate sex can burn almost as many as calories a 30 minute jog – and, let’s face it, is a lot more fun!
So, whatever your plans this Valentine’s Day – whether it’s wooing a new lover, smooching with your partner, or an excuse to get together with friends – enjoy a little indulgence. It could not only boost your relationships – but your health too.
Ding, E L. Cocoa flavonoids and effects on cardiovascular risk factors: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Harvard Medical School, United States.
Melnyk, John P et al. Aphrodisiacs from Plant and Animal Sources – A Review of Current Scientific Literature. Food Research International. 2011.
Steels E et al. Physiological aspects of male libido enhanced by standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum extract and mineral formulation. Phytother. Res. 2011.