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This Valentine's Day Tend to Affairs of the Heart

02/09/18

Valentine's Day

The last line of the quintessential romantic drama Love Story goes something like this: “Love means never having to say you’re… experiencing chest pains.” OK, maybe that’s not the exact line, but when it comes to heart health, it’s better to be safe than “sorry.” Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, so when celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, remember to love your heart by taking care of it! 

Have a Romantic (Heart Healthy) Meal

Cook at home together:

  • Start with a colorful mixed salad that includes heart-healthy fats such as avocado and an olive oil vinaigrette; toss in a handful of nuts, which provide plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Serve an entrée of fish (also rich in omega-3 fatty acids), chicken, or very lean red meat—or go vegetarian with beans, legumes, or tofu as the main course.
  • Add a heaping side of veggies.
  • For dessert, splurge on a small piece of plain, dark chocolate (which has a compound known to have health benefits) and a large bowl of fresh fruit.
  • Drink a toast to your love with a glass of red, which also contains compounds shown to be beneficial to the heart—in moderation of course.
  • Stuck for menu ideas? Check out the healthy recipes on the American Heart Association website.

Or go out:

  • Go big, but share the love (and the food). If you go to a restaurant split an entrée and a salad; restaurant meal servings are usually big enough for two, and sharing will keep you from overdoing it.
  • Go small. Restaurants serving tapas (small plates) will keep portions in check and allow you to sample a variety of delicious foods.

Plan a (Heart Healthy) Day

  • Get your heart pumping. Step away from Netflix and the couch... put down the popcorn and Raisinets... and start moving! Find fun activities to celebrate the day: Take a long romantic walk, go bowling or ice skating, sign up for a ballroom dance class or a session at the trampoline park—anything that keeps you moving for at least 30–60 minutes.
  • Reach out. Research shows that social connections help reduce stress on the heart, so spend your Valentine’s Day with a loved one, friends, or family. Pull out the board games, put up a pot of tea, relax, and share a few laughs.
  • Do good. According to multiple studies, volunteering offers positive emotional benefits and relieves stress.