Romantic Valentine's dinner good for heart

Feb. 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- For those planning a romantic dinner for Valentine's Day, it's lucky that romantic and heart-healthy go hand-in-hand, a U.S. dietitian said.

"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," Katie Boles, a clinical dietitian with the Brenner FIT Program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., said in a statement. "Eating a variety of these foods and eating them in moderation is key to a heart-healthy diet."

For example:

-- During the meal, enjoy a glass of red wine. This alcoholic beverage contains antioxidants that can improve high-density lipoprotein, the "good," cholesterol. But, only one glass.

-- Serve a spinach salad to defend against high blood pressure and hypertension. Top it with walnuts or carrots to add crunch and reduce cholesterol.

-- For the main course, serve a simple Italian favorite, pasta with marinara sauce. Tomatoes are full of beta- and alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and fiber. Garlic also reduces serum lipids, also known as cholesterol, and can assist in lowering blood pressure.

-- End the meal with a piece of dark chocolate with 70 percent or higher cocoa content helps to lower blood pressure.

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