Heart-Healthy Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Surprisingly, on the holiday devoted to love, our hearts tend to be forgotten. Our stomachs are filled with candies and steak, our spirits are lifted with cards and flowers, but our hearts are left aching for some attention.  

“Valentine’s is a special day that many people like to indulge-whether it be food, alcohol or a box of chocolates,” said Katie Twomley, M.D., cardiologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health Lexington Medical Center. “But while were thinking about love, you should also keep in mind heart health.”

Twomley offers the following tips on how to have a heart-healthy Valentine’s Day:

Dinner for two: That special dinner is a Valentine’s Day tradition. Whether you choose a romantic restaurant or a candlelight dinner at home, there are many ways to have a bountiful meal that won't break anyone’s heart. Consider baked or broiled lean meats or seafood with grilled or roasted vegetables. Feel free to finish with a decadent dessert, just watch the portion size.  

Sweets for your sweetie: Rich and creamy chocolates have long been a part of Valentine's Day. A little bit of dark chocolate may actually be healthy, but many of the traditional treats come with plenty of sugar and calories. Keep it to a few small pieces, and mix it up with healthy sweets like a basket of juicy fruits and berries. Your special someone will never notice the extra fiber, vitamins and minerals. 

Diamonds are forever, but...: A couples dance class or cooking class can teach techniques that last a lifetime. For something more tangible, a wearable fitness tracking device will serve your sweetheart well for many miles to come.

Tennis, anyone?: Enjoy each other’s company surrounded by nature. Try hiking, skiing, biking or taking a long walk together. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, there's ice skating, bowling, indoor rock climbing or museum touring.

“You don't have to wait for Valentine’s Day to show your significant other some love,” Twomley said. “But what a better way to show them than by doing something that’s healthy for their heart?”