Heart-Healthy Tips for Valentine’s Day
Having a good heart may have a lot to do with one’s capacity for compassion and understanding, but having a healthy heart starts with regular diet and exercise. Treat your heart right this Valentine’s Day by choosing healthy foods that won’t leave you feeling any post-holiday guilt!
Here are a few heart-healthy tips for your Valentine’s Day (and night):
- When it comes to sweets, there are plenty of guilt-free alternatives to the traditional sugary snacks. Dark chocolate, which isn’t as high in sugar as milk chocolate, contains flavonols that can lower blood pressure and prevent clotting and inflammation of blood vessels. Great with chocolate or fruit, nuts such as walnuts also make delicious snacks and contain fiber and fatty acids.
- It’s no wonder edible arrangements have become a popular gift. If your sweetheart has a sweet tooth, fruit makes a healthy substitute for candy. The antioxidants in blueberries, oranges, grapefruits, and other fruits decrease blood pressure. So go bananas and treat the apple of your eye to some heart-shaped fruit like strawberries this Valentine’s Day. You can even use heart-shaped cookie cutters to give melons some festive appeal. You’ll make a great “pear”!
- For a main course, avoid red meat and instead try a pink-hued fish entrée such as salmon, which contains healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids that lower the risk of an irregular heartbeat as well as reduced plaque build-up. Roasted potatoes are rich in potassium, which keeps the heart beating steadily, and tomatoes not only help get rid of bad cholesterol, they’re also festively colored!
- Don’t forget to start your meal with a heart-healthy salad full of good greens and veggies. Having bread with dinner? Go whole grain. Whole grains are good for the heart—oats are a soluble fiber that helps soak up cholesterol. The soy protein in soy milk, tofu, tempeh and edamame (when it is not covered in salt) reduces bad cholesterol and contain tons of healthy vitamins and minerals!
- Valentine’s Day only comes once a year, but like a loving relationship, heart health takes time. Many lovers out there know that vigorous exercise is also good for lowering blood sugar and reducing the waistline, so why not go for a hike with your Valentine, take in a sunset, and breathe in the fresh air? After that romantic, healthy meal you’ve enjoyed together, you can go for a lover’s stroll.
This Valentine’s Day, remember: less is more. (But feel free to indulge in sweet nothings.)
For more tips on what you can do to maintain a heart-healthy diet, consult one of your Scripps Affiliated Medical Specialists.