The health value of your holiday meal is debatable. What about the snacks that lead up to it and round it out? Not so much.
Well, they might be.
There’s no question that many snacks and baked goods people enjoy this time of year are of limited value. Outside of taste and fleeting moments of stress relief, they aren’t doing any good for you, except for maybe one of them.
Enjoying a glass of red wine and a small serving of dark chocolate each day, or just a few times a week, could be a healthful and rewarding holiday snack.
These items are rich in flavanols and nitrates, two compounds that positively affect vascular health. Dark chocolate and red wine help to boost nitric oxide in the blood, relaxing blood vessels and improving circulation.
Research suggests that a glass of red wine can help boost circulation and heart health, particularly in individuals ages 65 and up. A small serving of dark chocolate may not enhance this benefit, but it is also unlikely to cause harm.
It could be the perfect holiday snack to relax with.
Dosing, however, is essential to the health value of these items. Having more than five ounces of red wine (one standard glass) will eliminate the benefit. As will having too much chocolate. Or even the wrong type.
The chocolate must be dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa. However, 80-plus percent is ideal. Serving sizes should not exceed 30 grams, and you won’t get any benefit from many of the seasonal milk chocolate treats.
So, keep it simple: a small serving of dark chocolate and a glass of red wine.
One more word of warning: proceed with caution if you suffer migraines. Some people experience headaches when they consume nitrates (the compound that promotes nitric oxide), so the red wine/dark chocolate combo may boost headache risk.
For everyone else, this could be a heart-healthy snack that boosts nitric oxide and helps support healthy blood pressure during a stressful season.