February 14th is celebrated as Valentine’s Day in the US. We mark the occasion by collectively giving flowers, chocolates, dinners and gifts to the special people in our lives. News agencies detail that American consumers dish out over $13 BILLION in various ways on Valentine’s Day alone, over $3 Billion on just flowers and chocolate! That’s a lot of chocolate!
There has always been a lot of news fodder concerning chocolate and whether it’s good for you or bad for your health. Researchers have pointed to numerous chemicals inherent in the cocoa plant (the source of all things chocolate) as well as the processed chocolate that most of us actually eat. They’ve detailed research article after article on the detriments of the sugars and caffeine which we are all well aware of, or the benefit of other chocolate chemicals such as theobromine, a mild natural stimulant similar to caffeine, or 2-phenylethylamine (PEA), an neurotransmitter type drug which may or may not be responsible for that pleasurable feeling you get after eating your twelfth bonbon.
The most recent double-blind studies have shown that, contrary to popular hope, theobromine (and therefore chocolate) doesn’t actually lower blood pressure or significantly improve your mood. And while PEA may do wonderful things to test animals when delivered directly into the brain, when ingested it is quickly degraded into phenylacetic acid which is terrifically inactive in the body and thus removes almost any possibility that PEA would ever actually cross the blood brain barrier to fill us full of endorphins.
But wait! Before you ditch all of the Valentine traditions, did you realize that roses are actually quite good for you? Roses are by far the most plentiful flower presented on Valentine’s Day, and 71% of men and 36% of women purchase flowers for the occasion. The aggregate fruit of the rose blossom, called a “rose hip”, is actually a treasure-trove of vitamins and nutrients (though over-domesticated cultivars might not develop hips for lack of access to pollination). The rose hip is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C in plants (they also have Vitamin A and B)! HPLC assays have shown them to have a wide range of L-ascorbic acid, a naturally occurring antioxidant. They contain lycopene a type of caretene typically found in vegetables like carrots or tomatoes, which also has a lot of antioxidant activity and is a key component of LDL’s (low density lipoproteins). And rose hips have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and may be useful in treating rheumatoid arthritis. That’s not a bad resume for a flower that typically just meant to represent your love for someone.
GoldBio wants to wish you a wonderful Valentine’s Day and remember: if you want to have a treat or two of something healthy this year, just go ahead and nibble on the roses!
van den Bogaard, Bas, et al. “Effects on Peripheral and Central Blood Pressure of Cocoa With Natural or High-Dose Theobromine A Randomized, Double-Blind Crossover Trial.” Hypertension 56.5 (2010): 839-846.
Mitchell, E. S., et al. “Differential contributions of theobromine and caffeine on mood, psychomotor performance and blood pressure.” Physiology & behavior 104.5 (2011): 816-822.
Shulgin, Alexander, and Ann Shulgin. “PiHKAL.” Transform Press, Berkeley, CA (1991).
Rodriguez-Amaya, Delia B. “A guide to carotenoid analysis in foods.” A guide to carotenoid analysis in foods 64 (1999).
Larsen, Erik, et al. “An Antiinflammatory Galactolipid from Rose Hip (Rosa c anina) that Inhibits Chemotaxis of Human Peripheral Blood Neutrophils in Vitro.” Journal of natural products 66.7 (2003): 994-995.
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