As Cupid’s arrow poises to strike, Americans run out in hordes to stock up on conversational hearts and chocolatey treats. According to Derek Thompson of The Atlantic, who analyzed American’s spending habits on this $20 billion “Hallmark holiday,” we actually spend more on candy than flowers and cards put together. Of the 58 million pounds of chocolate we shell out the big bucks for, more than 70 percent is produced by Hershey or Mars, meaning the vast majority of those goodies are chock full of high-fructose corn syrup.
Given these findings, it’s safe to say those sweet little heart-shaped candies aren’t too great for the organ after which they’re modeled. As we’ve mentioned before, high doses of fructose have been shown to literally punch holes in the intestinal lining, allowing waste products, stomach bacteria, and partially digested food proteins to enter the blood stream and cause inflammation. Over the long term, this can lead to health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and accelerated aging.
Another fun fact: According to Rebecca Leber and Aviva Shen of Think Progress, in all likelihood the milk in your milk chocolate is generously provided by cows injected with Monsanto Company’s infamous rBGH hormone (banned in the European Union, Japan, Australia and Canada due to proven health risks for both the animal and you). Yet another reason you should stick to heart-healthy, libido-boosting dark chocolate.
To top it all off, “according to an article in the online Jewish magazine Tablet (and reported over the years elsewhere), 80 percent of the world’s cacao comes from West African operations where children are commonly used as slave labor.”
Of course, we’re not arguing that you boycott the holiday and kill your little love bug’s sugar buzz. There are tons of healthy, socially conscious ways to show your loved ones you care, and, yes, they do involve candy—of the fair-trade, corn syrup-free persuasion.