Balancing Heart Health and Candy Hearts in February

Is it cruel fate that brings together American Heart Month and Valentine's Day? In a month devoted to heart health and candy hearts, how can we celebrate both at the same time?

Is it cheating on one to celebrate the other? The American Heart Association is pleased to say that you can enjoy both. You can enjoy an occassional treat, in moderation. Just balance what you eat with how much you move.

Just so it's clear, the American Heart Association highly recommends that you avoid foods high in added sugars, sodium and saturated and trans fats; but Valentine's Day only comes once a year. If that's the day that you choose to to indulge, then enjoy it but remember to balance it with smart choices including fruits and vegetables and physical activity during the rest of the week.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when celebrating Valentine's Day:
  • Note the serving size. A couple of pieces of candy? OK. The whole box? Not so much. Split something with your Valentine - like ordering one milkshake and two straws.
  • Make a date to get active. Pick a fun physical activity such as indoor rock climbing, ice skating or rollerskating. Be silly and run around a playground.  Or go somewhere that requires lots of walking, like an amusement park or an outdoor festival. Parking in the farthest spot from the door also counts, as does anything else that gets you moving more and sitting less.
  • Limit the booze. Strawberries and champagne are so romantic. A one-glass limit is best for women. A single serving of alcohol is one 12-ounce beer, 4 ounces of wine or champagne, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.
  • Enjoy a candle-lit dinner at home. Preparing food yourself is the best way to make sure the good stuff (fruits and vegetables) is in your meal and the unhealthy stuff (salt and added sugars) is limited. Your loved one will appreciate your extra effort, and it's nice to avoid the Valentine's Day crowds. Get some menu ideas at www.heart.org/healthyrecipes.

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