A Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a day for celebrating. If you have a significant other, it’s a chance to celebrate. If you’re single, it’s a day to pamper yourself and be grateful for all you do have in life. This holiday is about hearts – and that includes your heart health. That’s what keeps you strong for yourself and for all the special people in your life.

When planning a heart-healthy Valentine’s Day, consider a romantic walk or scenic hike and a healthy meal or two with lean proteins and colorful fruits and vegetables. Dairy products may not come to mind first, but they are found everywhere in a typical Valentine’s Day menu. Plenty of research points to dairy’s cardiovascular benefits.

Pamper your heart with delicious dairy products.

The research linking dairy consumption to heart health keeps growing. One of the best-known studies was a study called Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Its aim was to lower blood pressure among people with slight hypertension, which affects one-third of adults and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Study participants were asked to follow a regular American diet or a DASH diet. Compared to the regular American diet, the DASH diet included less red meat and more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk, low-fat cheese, and fat-free yogurt. Within a few weeks, those on the DASH diet had significantly lower blood pressure, and dairy products likely played a major role.

Other studies confirmed this result and strengthened the link between dairy products and heart health. Drinking more milk is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Regularly having cheese is linked to lower cholesterol levels. Added bonus: people who regularly eat dairy products also tend to weigh less, which is linked to lower cardiovascular risk.

Imagine a dairy-filled Valentine’s Day.

So how will you fit in your dairy products on Valentine’s Day between the chocolate-covered strawberries and filet mignon? No problem!

You may not even realize how easy it is to get dairy products into your day. But it’s easy. Imagine sleeping in on Saturday – after all, you and your sweetheart deserve a little rest, and your heart disease risk drops when you get adequate sleep. Then, it’s time for a heart-healthy breakfast.

Eggs can be just the thing if you’re into lean proteins and antioxidant-packed veggies. Try an egg white omelet with spinach and low-fat feta cheese, or have a Southwestern scramble with tomatoes, green peppers, onions, salsa, and cheddar. Either way, the cheese makes the meal and helps protect your heart at the same time.

After a heart-pounding hike or session at the gym, and a couples massage or day at the spa with friends, it’s time to think about a heart-healthy dinner. Dairy plays a prominent role whether it’s shrimp Alfredo with whole-grain pasta or a more casual four-cheese pizza. And for dessert? Try chocolate cheesecake with raspberries or a strawberry parfait layered with mascarpone or ricotta cheese.

Dairy products are healthy for your heart and delicious on Valentine’s Day. Keep them in your plans as you think about this year’s February 14.




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