Chocolate not only tastes delicious, it is good for you. The key component of the sweet that is healthy are its flavonoids. Flavonoids have many antioxidant properties that are linked to improvements in cholesterol levels and blood pressure, along with lower rates of heart disease. A 2014 study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, also found that consuming high levels of flavonoids may not only protect against heart disease, but also potentially lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

If you are eating chocolate for antioxidants, dark chocolate is where it is at. A higher percentage of cacao means that the chocolate has higher flavonoids.  Flavonoids protect plants from certain environmental threats, and it can also help to strengthen your body by destroying free radicals. Dark chocolate can lower inflammation, which helps your immune system.  While there isn’t any proof, many people think a bite of chocolate can also boost your mood by releasing endorphins.

We think nothing goes better with chocolate than a nice glass of red wine, which is also known for health benefits. A dark chocolate that is high in cocoa, but low in sugar is best paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz. High tannin red wines compliment the complex flavor profile of a bitter dark chocolate. If you are sampling a sweeter dark chocolate, a Ruby Port is the way to go.

This month, enjoy yourself and visit a local chocolatier. Across the region there are some really talented people making some beautiful chocolate.  This Valentine’s Day go local and support an artisan sweet shop. If you pick up something fabulous take a picture and tag us on Instagram!