Say “I Love You” in a heart-healthy way

Heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, candies, and other sweet treats are some of the more popular ways we show our love for those special ones on Valentine’s Day.  This year, consider the heart when celebrating this holiday.

Photo by Gabby K on
  • Preparing foods at home gives you the option to make healthy substitutions and limit portion sizes.  
    • If baking is your choice, use oil instead of butter, or better yet replace half of the fat with a pureed fruit, like applesauce or canned pumpkin to reduce the saturated fat.  
    • Remember that you can often decrease the sugar in recipes by a third without noticing a change in flavor.  
    • Make chocolate-dipped fruit (especially strawberries) for a heart-healthy dessert but use dark chocolate.  The cocoa in dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants that protect your heart.   
  • Prepare a heart-healthy meal at home instead of ordering take-out from an expensive restaurant.  
    • Pick a unique menu that includes protein (lean meat or seafood) and many vegetables (try them grilled or roasted).  
    • Since red is the symbolic color for Valentine’s Day, add some red vegetables and fruits to your meal (red peppers, red onions, red potatoes, tomatoes, radicchio, red grapes, raspberries and strawberries). 
      • These red foods pack potent antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber for a healthy heart.  
    • When you cook at home, you control ingredients and portions, which helps to minimize calories, fat and sodium.  
    • Do not forget the candlelight and a glass of wine for this “special” meal. Cooking the meal together gives you valuable time to spend with your loved ones.  
    • For heart-healthy recipes, visit
  • Staying active is an integral part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Plan an activity to do with your loved ones for Valentine’s Day. 
    • Take a walk, try a new virtual dance or fitness class at home, go skiing, bowling or ice-skating. 
    • Make a date to continue these activities after this special day to provide a time to get healthy together. 
    • Other gift ideas to keep your loved ones healthy throughout the year are cooking classes, healthy cookbooks, membership to a fitness club, new exercise clothes, new fitness equipment or tracking appliances like a Fitbit, or a subscription to a health and fitness magazine or a healthy cooking magazine.
Photo by Gabby K on

Valentine’s Day is about celebrating with those you love, whether it is your “significant other”, family, friends or colleagues.  Say, “I love you”, this Valentine’s Day in a heart-healthy way and promote permanent lifestyle changes for yourself and others to reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke.  Remember you do not have to wait for a special occasion to show some love, make every day a heart-healthy day.  

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