Research finds another reason Valentine's Day is good for the heart

Research finds another reason Valentine's Day is good for the heart »Play Video

NORTH BEND, Ore. -- Can all those chocolate hearts you'll eat on Valentine's Day actually be good for your heart?

It's hard to miss the red and pink, hearts and kisses in February, but for many, the best part of
Valentine's Day is chocolate.

Kristen Mason of Cranberry Sweets says she prefers chocolate over the other common Valentine's gift. "I do the roses, and it seems like they're sitting on the table, they're so pretty, but then they start to wilt," she said. "You know, the chocolate does not, I mean the flavor is always there, it's always gonna be there, you can't go wrong."

February is also national heart health month, and with the death rate from heart disease in Coos County being twice the state average, dedicating a month to being heart healthy is especially important on the south coast.

All that chocolate you get for Valentine's Day? It might actually help.

Researchers say cocoa has antioxidants that can lower your risk of a heart attack and stroke, but not just any chocolate will do. Linda Mill of Bay Area Hospital says there are health differences in different kinds of chocolate. "So, if you get the commercially processed chocolate, it's been heated up, and so the percent of those good natural chemicals are gone from that chocolate," she said. "You really need to be looking at organically grown, just good quality, healthy dark chocolate to eat if you want those qualities."

Mill doesn't recommend eating buckets full of dark chocolate, it's still high in fat and sugar.

But, she says chocolate could be beneficial in other ways. "A merry heart does good like medicine," she said.

So, while eating chocolate won't cure heart disease, getting a heart shaped box of sweets from a loved one on Valentine's Day might just make your heart a little merrier.