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Heart Healthy Valentine's Day

This Valentine’s Day show how much you really care. A heart healthy treat is not only romantic, it will help you to enjoy many more Valentine’s Days together.

This year, skip the marshmallow creams and caramel fillings and opt for some dark chocolate. Flavonoids, found in cocoa beans, promote heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce harmful LDL cholesterol and increase blood flow to the brain. Dark chocolate contains more cocoa than white or milk chocolate and that translates to a greater amount of flavonoids. Choose dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa for maximum health benefits.

You can also choose to give your beloved some fresh strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. This romantic treat combines the benefits of dark chocolate with the goodness of fruit. When you eat fruit every day, you can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by 40 percent. Simply dip strawberries or your favorite fruit in dark chocolate for this sweet treat. If you lack basic kitchen skills, you can always purchase a chocolate-dipped fruit bouquet. Either way, you’ll show your love in a sweet and romantic way.

Going out for a romantic dinner for two? Choose a seafood entree for a heart healthy meal. Grilled or broiled fish is low in cholesterol and high in healthy fats and oils. Cold water fish such as salmon, tuna and lake trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce artery-clogging triglycerides and help decrease the risk of irregular heartbeat.

After dinner, you might want to head to the dance floor. Dancing is a great aerobic exercise that benefits your body and your mind. While you enjoy the music, the physical activity burns calories, reduces your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, helps to strengthen your bones and muscles, and even decreases your risk of dementia. No matter what kind of dancing you prefer, it’s a fun way to spend some time together and improve your heart health at the same time.

Or maybe you want some quiet alone time. Take a walk together and enjoy the aerobic benefits and the scenery around you. A walk in the park or around the block should be brisk enough to get your pulse and breathing up but slow enough for you to talk. If you live in a cold climate, go to your local museum and take a lap around the gallery before stopping to admire the art. Or head for the zoo, where you can walk outdoors and warm up at the indoor exhibits.

No matter what you choose to do, helping your heart’s desire stay heart healthy is the greatest expression of love. Be creative and show your Valentine how much you care with a gift that will help him or her live a longer and healthier life.

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