The Nutrition Nook is a monthly column featuring nutrition information for healthy eating. This month we’ll hear from Denine, who writes HEPSA Living Healthy Online blog. Denine is the creator of the HEPSA Living Healthy Online blog and is the President of HEPSA Living Healthy with an extensive educational and practical background in the healthcare field. *Remember to consult your primary care physician or dietitian before beginning a new nutrition regimen.*
A person once told me that there is no way you can have a healthy heart for Valentine’s Day. When you are out with the one you love, you can’t help but splurge on chocolate-rich assortments of candies, you usually skip your exercise plan to get ready for the Valentine’s Day evening date and eating out at a fine, high-fat tasting restaurant where you top off the meal with a luscious, unhealthy dessert. The person continued to say that the only healthy things during that day are the roses!
I had to agree and disagree with this statement that person told me. The part I do agree with is yes that it can be an unhealthy eating day, but I also disagree that it has to be like this on Valentine’s Day. We all have a choice on how we are going to eat and how we are going to spend time together on this day, but we can make a choice in doing this in a heart healthy way.
First, we can decide on what types chocolate candies that can be given as a gift. There has been research that dark chocolate candy that contains cocoa is loaded with flavonoids. Eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate is linked to lower risks of heart failure among middle-aged and older women, compared to eating no chocolate at all. So, eating a small amount of dark chocolate has benefits after all.
Second, how can you spend this date to make it heart healthy day? Why not include some physical activity exercises! Why exercise? Exercising aerobically at least four times a week for at least half an hour each time can help you lower heart health risks, lose weight and raise your good (HDL) cholesterol. So, why not have a date that consists of walking in the botanical gardens or jogging in the park or swimming in the local pool or in the beach. Now, that is romantic!
And the last idea for your Valentine’s Day date, what food can you eat at a restaurant that is heart healthy? Plan what type of meal you and your date would like to eat. Some examples are:
- If you like Mexican – avoid the re-fried beans and guacamole, but instead have chicken enchiladas or black beans (not re-fried) burrito without cheese.
- If you like Italian – avoid lots of meat, cheese and cream sauces, but instead have either pizza (less cheese and add only vegetable toppings) or pasta with marinara or clam sauce.
- If you like Asian – avoid stir-fried, breaded and deep-fried food, but instead have sushi or sashimi or steamed rice with steamed, broiled or cooked entrée.
- For a dessert, why not share and have a fruit salad or low fat strawberry cheesecake with fresh strawberries? Or instead of going out for your date, why not you and your lover cook together a sexy heart healthy home-cooked meal. What a way to top off a lovely day!