February is American Heart Month. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; it’s no wonder Valentine’s month is devoted to the heart! The best way to love your heart is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exchange saturated fats for unsaturated fats, exercise, and manage weight and stress. From my personal experience in nutrition, most of us eat too many processed foods and not nearly enough plant foods packed with heart-healthy nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Certainly, we don’t have to cut out foods we love; we simply need to creatively come up with healthier, more natural alternatives.
Do something sweet for your heart this Valentine’s Day. Instead of an extravagant, high-calorie dinner, opt for a romantic dessert at home. Combine dark chocolate, rich in phytonutrients that may improve heart health called flavonoids, and fruit rich in heart disease fighting antioxidants. Give it a try! Melt 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate and drizzle over cut pears, walnuts, and strawberries for a decadent treat lower in calories than most restaurant desserts and higher in nutrients for a healthy heart.