A Heart Healthy Dinner for Your Sweetheart

[avatar user=”doller” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”http://www.acppps.org/who-we-are/denisse-oller”]By: Denisse Oller[/avatar]Valentine’s Day is all about hearts. Stores are filled with heart shaped cards and candy, bears holding hearts that say ‘I Love You’, and heart covered clothing. Not even pizza is immune from the being turned into a heart on Valentine’s Day. With all this joy and celebration around the shape that symbolizes love, let’s not forget the heart inside your loved one’s chest.

On February 14th, make your valentine a delicious meal that is guaranteed to satisfy their stomach and their heart. This three-course meal is DASH Nutrition Plan friendly and will be sure to impress your Valentine while filling them with the needed nutrients that will keep their heart beating for you.

For the first course, start with a super flavorful Kale and Apple Salad with a light lemon dressing. Kale’s reputation of as a superfood is for good reason – kale is anti-oxidant rich and high in fiber, which are beneficial for both your heart and your body. If you’re not a fan of kale you can easily switch it out for spinach, which has many of the same nutritional benefits. This salad also contains apples and slivered almonds, which provide not only an excellent crunch, texture, but also natural sweetness to the salad and nuts – almonds especially – contain fiber and Vitamin E which helps lower cholesterol.

For the main course, impress your sweetheart with this roasted salmon, green beans and tomato dish, on-theme with its color scheme from the red tomatoes and pink salmon. Salmon known as a powerhouse of heart-healthy food due to its large quantities of omega-3 fatty acid, which has been associated with lowering the risk of irregular heart beat, plaque build-up in the arteries, and triglyceride levels. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like Salmon at least twice a week because the benefits from adding it to your diet are significant. Tomatoes are also a heart healthy choice because they are high in potassium and a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene helps lower blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and keeps blood vessels open. The green beans – which are high in protein and may help control blood sugar – are also key heart helpers, making every key ingredient of this main course heart healthy and delicious.

For dessert, the romantically classic chocolate covered strawberries  are actually incredibly heart healthy. Berries like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all rich in antioxidants, which may decrease blood pressure and dilate blood vessels. Dark chocolate, in moderation of course, has also been linked to helping blood pressure, clotting and inflammation. This is because dark chocolate, not milk or white chocolate, contains polyphenols.

As an added bonus, you can have a glass of red wine with your meal. Red wine is thought to lower heart disease risk when consumed in small servings. Red wine, like the dark chocolate, contains polyphenol. However, the benefits only come from drinking one glass a day. Any more than that can actually increase your risk of heart disease.

On a day normally filled with huge amounts of sweets, this low calorie and healthy dinner will improve yours and your date’s heart health. Plus, it is simple enough to make after work and some of these dishes can even be prepared in advance. This Valentine’s Day ditch the crowds and rescue your wallet by making a heart healthy dinner at home. Your Valentine and their heart will be sure to thank you.  Your heart will thank you, too!

Source: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20720182,00.html#red-wine-0