4 heart-healthy diet mantras for Valentine's Day

There are some foods, which when combined can make a romantic yet cardiac-friendly dinner that is perfect for you and your partner on Valentine's Day.

According to researchers, eating a variety of healthy foods in moderation is vital for a heart-healthy diet

"Years of research has shown that a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated fat and lean protein will not only help with weight maintenance, but with overall heart health," said Katie Boles, RD, LDN, clinical dietician with the Brenner FIT Program, at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

"Eating a variety of these foods and eating them in moderation is key to a heart-healthy diet," she said.

The researchers have suggested having a glass of red wine during the meal.

This alcoholic beverage contains antioxidants that can improve "good" HDL cholesterol, but moderation is the key.

It is also healthy to serve a spinach salad to defend against high blood pressure and hypertension. Topping it with walnuts or carrots adds crunch and reduces cholesterol.

For the main course, serve simple Italian favourite, pasta with marinara sauce. Tomatoes are chalk full of beta- and alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and fibre.

Garlic also reduces serum lipids, also known as cholesterol, and can assist in lowering blood pressure.

Ending the meal with a piece of dark chocolate consisting of 70 percent or higher cocoa content will not only conveniently fulfill a craving, but also help in lowering blood pressure to keep yourself healthy and happy on Valentine's Day.

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