Being involved in a healthy, loving relationship is good for your health, especially your heart, even (or ESPECIALLY) if you fight, but only if you don’t fight constantly.

Cardiologist Julie Damp says, “There are a couple of different theories behind why that might be. There is a theory that people who are in loving relationships may experience neuro-hormonal changes that have positive effects on the body, including the cardiovascular system. In fact, studies have shown that relationships that involve conflict or negativity are associated with an increase in risk for coronary artery disease.” In other words, it’s healthful to be close to someone?UNLESS you fight all the time.

Giving your loved one a box of dark chocolates and a bottle of red wine won?t hurt either, since these are good for the heart as well. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants. These have proven positive effects on many different body systems including the cardiovascular system. The high concentration of cocoa in dark chocolate is what does it. Damp says, “Dark chocolate has been?shown to be associated with lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and improvement in the way your blood vessels dilate and relax.”

Flavonoids are also present in red wine. One drink of either red wine or alcohol slightly benefits the heart and blood vessels, but the positive effects disappear with two drinks.

A large number of population studies have shown a protective effect of light or moderate alcohol drinking against the risk of death and the development of heart disease. Many studies have also reported specific benefits of red wine. Population surveys found lower rates of heart disease, despite high-fat diets, in some European countries where red wine was consumed regularly. Widely known at the French paradox, this has created a huge interest in exploring if and how red wine has a protective effect against heart disease.

However, the findings of this study showed virtually identical effects of red wine and alcohol on the specific markers tested. After one drink of either red wine or alcohol, blood vessels were more “relaxed” or dilated, which reduced the amount of work the heart had to do. But, after two drinks, the heart rate, amount of blood pumped out of the heart, and action of the sympathetic nervous system all increased. At the same time, the ability of the blood vessels to expand in response to an increase in blood flow diminished. This counteracted the beneficial effect of one drink of red wine or alcohol.

Researcher John Floras says, “We had anticipated that many of the effects of one ethanol drink would be enhanced by red wine. What was most surprising was how similar the effects were of red wine and ethanol. Any benefits that we found were not specific to red wine.”

In other words, any kind of alcohol will do?as long as you don’t OVERdo.

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