Red wine and chocolate are healthy choices, in moderation

February 14, 2013 7:32:33 AM PST
Red wine and chocolate are decadent favorites this time of year.

They may not only be romantic but they can be part of a heart-healthy diet.

In moderation they may be good choices, not just on Valentine's Day but all year-round.

Red wine contains resveratrol which is a powerful antioxidant and has been found to lower blood sugar and decrease inflammation.

For example, cabernets, pinots and merlots also contain catechins which could help improve good cholesterol.

When it comes chocolate, experts say the darker the better.

Choose a candy with a cocoa content of 70-percent or higher.

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and has flavonoids and other heart-protecting properties.

Loyola cardiologists point out that moderation is key if you are truly looking for a healthy boost.

"We've not really had strong enough evidence that drinking red wine or having dark chocolate can actually reduce the incidence of heart disease," a cardiologist at Loyola University Medical Center Dr. Thriveni Sanagala said.

However, red wine and chocolate do have substances that can be good when used in moderation, Sanagala said.

That would mean maybe one glass of red wine a day and just a few ounces of chocolate several times a week.

Other heart-healthy foods to consider are salmon, tuna, flax seed and nuts like almonds and walnuts.

They all contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Oatmeal and berries such as blueberries, cranberries and strawberries are also good sources of fiber, potassium and other healthy components.