February is known for Valentine’s Day, the day when many people celebrate hearts and love. But there’s more than one day this month to think about the heart. February is also American Heart Health Month, an excellent opportunity to learn about heart disease and how to live a heart-healthy life.
With independent and assisted living communities throughout the U.S., HarborChase Senior Living understands the importance of senior health and healthy aging. This February, as you proclaim your commitment to the ones you love, we also encourage you to commit to getting heart-healthy!
Heart disease is largely preventable, so we’re sharing some simple steps you can take to incorporate a heart-healthy diet into your life. Also, since social distancing and restaurant restrictions may suspend any romantic Valentine’s Day restaurant dates, we’re sharing some heart-healthy Valentine’s Day recipes for you to make and share with that special someone!
Building a Heart-Healthy Diet
Control Portion Size
How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. People will often get seconds or thirds, eat until they’re stuffed, or try to finish massive restaurant portions—all of which can lead to an excess intake of calories. Controlling your portion size and eating appropriate servings of each food group can help in not only protecting your heart but also in maintaining your weight.
To do this, use small (or even sectioned) plates when eating at home. While diets may vary from person to person, a general guideline is that half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables (more vegetables than fruits), one-fourth of your plate lean, healthy proteins, and one-fourth whole grains.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Eating a lot of sodium can lead to high blood pressure—which eventually puts a strain on the heart and can contribute to plaque build-up and weight gain. Reducing sodium intake involves more than just saying no to that extra dash of salt, though. More than 70% of sodium intake comes from packaged and processed foods. To avoid this unnecessary amount of sodium, try making typically high-sodium foods—like soups, sauces, and frozen meals—on your own at home.
Allow For Treats
With any diet or habit that promotes healthy aging, it’s okay to let yourself indulge every once in a while! If you are seriously committed to living and eating well most of the time, a sweet chocolate dessert or a slice of pizza won’t slow down your progress. We all know it can be hard to turn down a tempting sweet treat—especially on Valentine’s Day!
Heart-Healthy Recipes for Two
Cooking together can be a romantic and fun way to spend Valentine’s Day. Here are some heart-healthy and festive recipes for you to enjoy the whole day!
Berry and Yogurt Parfait
Start your day with these sweet and healthy berry parfaits! Berries are rich in antioxidants, a substance that is known to protect against heart disease. For an added decoration, you can even slice the berries to form hearts. Get the recipe here.
Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche
For a more savory breakfast option, try this nutrient-dense, low carb quiche! Get the recipe here.
Chickpea and Red Pepper Soup with Quinoa
There’s nothing like curling up with a warm cup of soup on a cold February day, and it’s even better if it’s good for you! This low-sodium soup is a great source of protein and heart-healthy ingredients. Get the recipe here.
Bean Burrito Bowl with Whole Grain Rice
This healthy take on a classic burrito includes several heart-healthy foods like avocado and whole grain rice. Since these bowls are easily customizable, this is a good option if you and your loved one have different tastes and preferences. Get the recipe here.
Maple Glazed Salmon
Fatty fish, like salmon, are full of Omega-3’s which are known for their heart health benefits. This maple glazed salmon is simple to make, but serve it with a fresh kale salad, and you’ve got a perfect Valentine’s dinner! Get the recipe here.
Roast Chicken and Mushroom with Red Wine Sauce
This dinner is full of lean proteins, nutrient vegetables, and a delicious red wine sauce perfect for Valentine’s Day. Get the recipe here.
Healthy Chocolate Truffles
It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a rich chocolate dessert, would it? These decadent chocolate truffles include dark chocolate and hazelnuts, two foods that promote heart health. Get the recipe here.
Orange Cranberry Cakes
For those who prefer fruity flavors over chocolate, these light and refreshing cakes are the perfect ending to a romantic Valentine’s Day meal. Get the recipe here.
Have a Heart-to-Heart with Healthy Aging
This February, as you celebrate love with paper hearts and candy hearts, don’t forget to celebrate your real heart! The purpose of Heart Health Month is to encourage healthy eating, healthy living, and healthy aging. You can start by cooking up some of these heart-healthy recipes for Valentine’s Day!
Here at HarborChase Senior Living, we are dedicated to furthering the knowledge and resources available on senior living, health, and wellness. Located throughout the United States, our independent and assisted living communities offer attentive and compassionate care in a luxurious, resort-style setting. For more resources and information on healthy aging, caregiving, and more, we invite you to visit our free downloadable resource page!