Source: GCH Food & Nutrition Services,
As you prepare for the most romantic day of the year, consider making it special for the one you love with some tasty, and heart smart treats. The Health Experts at Garden City Hospital suggest serving any or all of these will not only set the proper mood but also show how much you care.
Strawberries – The bright red color adds the ideal pop to your dinner table, and also provides anthocyanins, a compound that increases blood flow and the burning of stored fat. In addition, the strawberry’s flavonoids lower your risk for heart disease.
Apples – Take a bite of the crispy sweetness associated with a lower risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe the strong antioxidant compounds found in apples, play a key role by preventing “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and triggering a series of events that result in the buildup of plaque in arteries, as well as inhibiting inflammation. Apples are also rich in pectin, a form of soluble fiber known to help lower cholesterol, and they provide a decent amount of vitamin C, another antioxidant. Frequent apple eaters also have a lower risk for stroke compared with non-apple eaters.
Nuts – Chock-full of vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats. Research suggests that people who eat nuts - walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and peanuts – two to four days or more per week have a lower incidence of heart disease than people who eat them less often.
Yogurt – Smooth and creamy with a bite, yogurt not only helps balance out digestive health it aids in the prevention of gum disease. People with gum disease – which affects nearly half of Americans – are twice as likely to suffer from heart problems.
Dark Chocolate – Embrace this smooth, decadent treat without guilt. The cocoa provides a compound called epicatechin, a potent antioxidant that lowers blood pressure and fights free radical molecules connected to heart disease and other illnesses. Research has discovered that eating flavanol-rich dark chocolate has a blood-thinning effect, which can benefit cardiovascular health, and it may also boost the immune system by reducing inflammation.
Enjoy chocolate in moderation, 1.5 ounces will do the trick and stick to darker varieties with 70% cocoa or more. Milk or white chocolates do not offer the same healthy benefits.
Red Wine – A perfect compliment to your romantic evening, red wine not only contains antioxidants, but has also been shown to improve “good” cholesterol levels. Enjoy in moderation and pair with a balanced meal for the maximum health benefits.
A TIP FROM THE GCH HEALTH EXPERTS:
Try combining these and other healthy snacks for easy and delicious treats anytime. For example, yogurt with berries, granola and small dark chocolate chips is a great way to start your day, and a great snack before bed. Slowly melt dark chocolate in a double boiler and dip strawberries, apples, pineapple or other fruits is a great treat for every age.