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Valentine's Day Indulgences Can Be Heart Healthy
Date:2/9/2009

Research shows things associated with the holiday from fruit and wine to massage can lower stress and reduce heart risk

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The sweet delights of Valentine's Day are thought of as indulgences, but fruit, chocolate, wine and romance can be good for your heart, says a University of Michigan researcher.

Of course moderation is key when enjoying food and wine, but there are components in tart cherries, grapes and wine that can lower blood pressure and protect heart muscle. And a glass wine and massage can do wonders for lowering stress and anxiety.

"There are many fruits associated with Valentine's Day, most commonly cherries, of course," says Steven F. Bolling, M.D., professor of cardiac surgery at the U-M medical school. "In cherries there are compounds called anthocyanins, which also can be very good for your heart. Perhaps we could even take the cherries and dip them in chocolate to make a very good, heart-healthy Valentine's snack."

Not any chocolate will do. Dark chocolate is the kind that contains flavonoids credited with being good for the heart.

"People have asked the question which is better for you: red wine or white wine? Probably wine in itself is good for you, just because it reduces stress and anxiety; let's not over do it," Bolling warns. "But red wine has specific agents, perhaps in the dark skin of red wine grapes that are heart-healthy and heart-friendly."

Bolling recently published research on the benefits of grapes. A study performed in the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory showed grape intake lowered blood pressure and improved heart function in lab rats. While more research should done, the study results were encouraging.

The animals in the study were like many Americans who have high blood pressure related to their diet, particularly a salty diet. So wh
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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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