5 Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day Recipes

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What’s the most iconic symbol for Valentine’s Day? Hearts, of course! Whether they are cut out of red foil, drawn with a crayon or texted with a “<3,” they all represent love and affection. And while we’re on the subject of hearts, February 14 serves as a great reminder to do everything you can to protect your heart — not from potential heartbreak but from heart disease. Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and even stress all contribute to cardiovascular disease. After all, it can’t be a coincidence that February is also American Heart Month.

“Following a heart-healthy diet can be easy and tasty, if you follow a few simple rules,” says Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, a nutritionist in Los Angeles. “Get plenty of fruits and vegetables, and choose whole grains most often since these foods give you plenty of heart-healthy vitamins and fiber. It’s also important that you choose the right kinds of fats: Oils such as olive oils and the fats in nuts and seeds and avocados give you heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, provide omega-3 fatty acids that can lower triglycerides and blood pressure.”

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So on this day dedicated to love, whether you have a sweetheart to cook a romantic meal for or you just want to give yourself the gift of self-love, whip up these delicious recipes that will warm your heart this Valentine’s Day.

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Breakfast: Sunny-Side Up Avocado Toasts

One high-fat food you might want to include on your cholesterol-lowering menu is avocado. Researchers at Penn State University put participants on different diets during which they controlled their fat intake — and one of those groups was given one avocado a day. Even among groups that consumed the same amount of fat, the group that ate an avocado a day reduced their blood cholesterol levels more than the group that wasn’t eating avocado. “Try swapping avocado for mayonnaise on your sandwich, topping off your omelet with avocado slices or putting it on toast before you hit the gym,” Bannan suggests. The eggs provide good quality protein and heart-healthy nutrients, such as folate and omega-3 fatty acids. Bannan says choosing DHA-fortified eggs will further reap the omega-3 benefits for your heart. Finally, she says whole grains, including 100 percent whole-grain bread, are rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and many other nutrients that help lower blood pressure and promote heart health.

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