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Tips for a Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2012

OCONOMOWOC, Wis. - A romantic night on the town for Valentine's Day can be packed with food that's no good for the heart. However, following some easy tips can show you care about your loved one's heart.

If your night out includes a visit to a restaurant, says Tammy Gallow, a registered nurse and registered dietitian with ProHealth Care in Oconomowoc, the best heart-healthy choice is fish.

"Wild Alaskan salmon, tuna, those types of things - trout, swordfish. Those are typically higher in Omega 3s. You want to think of it as 'these are the fish that are typically served broiled, grilled, sauteed.' "

Lean cuts of beef such as tenderloin are another good choice, Gallow says, and if you're having a glass of wine to toast your love, the dry red wines are best for your heart.

Some might think the traditional Valentine's Day gift of chocolate should be avoided, but Gallow says it's not forbidden.

"Oh absolutely not! Actually - again, very good news - there's a heart-healthy fat. The deep, dark chocolate is actually very healthy for us, but you want to go for a chocolate that has at least a 70 percent cocoa content."

The American Heart Association says 80 percent of heart disease is preventable by making simple changes to diet, exercising more and quitting smoking. Gallow says we've been conditioned to think that high-sugar, high-fat foods are the most tasty - but they're not.

"What we really find is when we start to eat real, whole, natural foods in their most natural state, and we prepare them simply, and use an abundance of herbs and spices and olive oil and garlic, that the flavors explode on your palate."

February is American Heart Month, and the American Heart Association says a great Valentine's Day gift is to show someone you care by making the right choices to live a longer, healthier life. Heart disease is the number-one killer of women in America, and more heart-healthy tips for navigating the restaurant menu are online at heart.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI