Love, Diamonds and Chocolates on Valentine’s Day

"Lovers walking" along the waterfront near Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)
"Lovers walking" along the waterfront near Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)

Christmas is over. New year’s celebrations are over. Business has slowed down. Now comes Valentine’s Day. That should energize people again. It’s time to buy chocolates, diamonds and go out for a romantic dinner. What happens after that is anybody’s guess.

Saint Valentine’s Day, also known as Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year.

St. Valentine’s Day began as a celebration after the names of early Christian saints named Valentinus. According to Wikipedia, the day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

Now we are into 21st century. The tradition goes on. The association of Valentine’s Day with love and affection is immense. We need that in this troubled world. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”, says Ryan O’Neal’s character at the end of the movie “Love Story.”

That brings me to the association of chocolate and diamonds with Valentine’s Day. I don’t know how that happened. But we know one thing – chocolates and diamonds are a woman’s best friends. Is that healthy? Well, diamonds don’t hurt anybody. But chocolates – depends what kind of chocolate you eat.

We have been eating chocolates for a long time. The earliest evidence of use traces to the Mokaya (Mexico and Guatemala), with evidence of chocolate beverages dating back to 1900 BC.

An average North American consumes about five to six kilograms of chocolate a year. Did you know 40 per cent of world’s almonds, 20 per cent of world’s peanuts and eight per cent of world’s sugar is used by chocolate manufacturers? No wonder too much chocolate is fattening.

There are three varieties of chocolates: dark, milk and white chocolate. Chocolate liquor is the main ingredient in dark and milk chocolate and white chocolate has no chocolate liquor.

Many studies have suggested moderate intake of chocolate (especially dark chocolate) is good for our heart and vascular system. This is surprising because chocolate contains about 30 per cent saturated fat. Saturated fat is known to raise bad cholesterol level. But chocolate has saturated fat, which is poorly absorbed in the intestine. That is good news for chocolate lovers. Chocolate can also improve blood flow and reduces blood pressure.

Besides being fattening, chocolate can cause dental caries. What about chocolate addiction, chocolate acne and chocolate migraine? There isn’t much scientific evidence to prove any of that. So once in awhile you can enjoy your chocolate.

Remember, there are two food groups: chocolate and fruit. If it is fruit, it should be dipped in chocolate. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Make love, not war.

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