How do you show your love on Valentine’s Day? Cards and roses may say that you really care, but a healthy and delicious meal will show your loved one that you’ve got a heart of gold.
“There are so many foods that are known to be heart-healthy,” says Luigi Gratton, MD, vice president of nutrition education at Herbalife. “Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to feature these foods in a delicious, healthy meal that you can literally eat to your heart’s content,” he adds.
Toast your loved one with a glass of champagne. Not only is it festive, but it contains plentiful polyphenols, which are naturally-occurring compounds in grapes that help to maintain healthy blood flow and blood pressure.
Start your meal with a colorful salad. Brightly colored carrots, tomatoes and spinach get their hues from carotenoids, a group of antioxidant pigments that help maintain heart health. Toss in some avocado for a bonus; its healthy fat helps your body absorb these beneficial compounds. You can even go a little nuts on Valentine’s day. Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios contain substances called phytosterols that help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Toast them lightly first to bring out their flavor, then add to salads or veggies.
You may be devoted to your one and only, but there are plenty of fish in the sea. It’s a good thing, too. The healthy omega-3 fats found in ocean-caught fish help to keep certain fats in the blood – like triglycerides and cholesterol – within normal range.
You may never know what you’re going to get in a box of chocolates, but you’ll get more from a box of the dark treats. Naturally occurring compounds in cocoa called flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals to support heart health. The darker (and more bittersweet) the chocolate, the better it is for you. (Milk chocolate has a lot less of these healthy compounds, and white chocolate has virtually none).
While you’re at it, drizzle some melted bittersweet chocolate over fresh berries for a more beneficial dessert. Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that help maintain heart health.
Susan Bowerman is a consultant to Herbalife.