Have you seen a big uptick in advertisements to get your heart checked, make sure you’re staying healthy, etc? That’s because February is American Heart Month. I don’t often get on a soapbox about health issues, but this one is really important because heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., responsible for approximately 25% of deaths each year, and it is largely preventable. A healthy diet and exercise are all most people need, barring any underlying health issues.

There’s a lot of hype around certain foods that are supposed to help keep cholesterol under control and protect your heart. Two of the “fun foods” that are often advertised as being good for your heart are red wine and dark chocolate, which happen to be two of my favorite things. Both contain an antioxidant called resveratrol, which some believe helps lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. It could also potentially decrease artery stiffness in people with diabetes. It’s not a magic elixir, though, and the studies are mixed. According to the American Heart Association, studies have not shown a causal relationship between wine and better heart health, just that there seems to be an association between drinking wine and certain health benefits. At the end of the day, no doctor is going to prescribe wine and chocolate, but if you’re already eating and drinking these things you may be getting some health benefits if you are otherwise eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise.

If you do choose to indulge in a glass of red wine and a piece of dark chocolate from time to time, the biggest caveat is to not go overboard. Most people agree that moderation is important and you do have to balance the potential health benefits of red wine with the consequences of drinking alcohol. You also probably shouldn’t eat a pound of dark chocolate a day, even if it could help your heart.

The good news is, red wine and dark chocolate pair great together! For me at least, they’re the perfect after dinner treat. I love a really high quality chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. Sometimes just a plain chocolate is perfect, but it’s fun to switch things up from time to time and get something with a little cayenne pepper or other spices. K&M Chocolate makes some amazing chocolate bars that are specially crafted to preserve the antioxidants in the chocolate. They source the cocoa from countries known for producing high quality cocoa, like Peru, Madagascar, and Ecuador.

When I want to pair my K+M Chocolate with wine, I often go with LUXX Merlot or 5 String Reserve Petite Sirah. I love the way the boldness of the wine is smoothed by the velvety chocolate. What’s your favorite wine and chocolate pairing?

*Please note, I am not a health professional and any changes to your diet should always be discussed with your doctor. The information contained in this post is current as of the posting date and has been gathered from the most reliable sources I could find.

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