Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2024

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, visions of chocolate, wine and romantic dinners may come to mind. While that’s all well and good, indulging in rich food and vino is not the only way to celebrate those in our lives whom we love. And it’s not only the “romantic” version of love that we honor—love for family members, friends, and neighbors is just as important, too. Here are a few heart-healthy ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your Valentine or Galentine this year! 

Did you know February is American Heart Health Month? It’s the ideal time to integrate exercise and nutrition into your Valentine’s Day activities. 

(Healthy) Food is Love

One easy upgrade would be to make a delicious home-cooked meal rather than indulging in a heavy and possibly unhealthy (not to mention expensive) dinner out. Stay in and cook a sumptuous dinner of grilled salmon, chicken, or other lean meats, paired with spiced roasted vegetables and wild rice. Not only will your heart thank you, but so too will your wallet! Explore more ideas here. The Sterling Chefs (@TheSterlingChefs on Instagram) are also a great inspiration. They regularly share photos of delicious and nutritious dishes that’ll tempt your taste buds! 

Smarter Sweets

Of course, it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a little something sweet! But it can be tricky to come up with treats that are both enjoyable and healthy, as many of us need to watch our sugar intake. For starters, dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, and it also contains less sugar than regular chocolate. Plus, dark chocolate has the added benefit of being rich in iron and magnesium for some who may be deficient in those minerals.  

Go Nuts 

Another option is homemade trail mix using dried fruits and nuts. The combination of protein and fiber will keep you full throughout the day without the extra added sugar. Other quick and healthy options include roasted chickpeas, air-popped popcorn and nuts and seeds, including almonds, walnuts, cashews and sunflower seeds, which provide beneficial fats, vitamins and minerals. And finally, don’t forget about fresh fruit! From apples and oranges to kiwi and mangoes, fresh fruit is most always a hit. It’s packed full of essential vitamins and minerals and is naturally sweet without any added sugars. 

Make Some Moves 

Another way to show a little love – for yourself and your Valentine or Galentine –  is to get out and move! It’s very important as we age to keep our bodies and minds feeling their best. By exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30-40 percent and your risk of having a stroke by 25 percent. And enjoying an activity with a favorite person makes it double the fun. 

The possibilities are endless and could include walking, swimming, pickleball, or even virtual fitness classes, such as yoga, Zumba and Pilates. Yoga has been called one of the best forms of exercise for older adults. It offers a relaxing way to let go of the tension you’re holding in your body, especially the shoulders, neck and upper back. (Just remember to check with your medical professional before trying any new activity!) 

No matter what you do this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget the point is to enjoy the time with your loved ones. Even if holidays look a little different than they used to, spending quality time with your Valentine or Galentine is wonderful, anytime!