Your Healthiest Valentine's Day Ever

Your Healthiest Valentine's Day Ever

Be sweet to your heart and your hubby


There are few things less romantic than a sink full of dishes. Which may explain why you’re trading a home-cooked meal for a romantic restaurant this Valentine’s Day. And you won’t be alone: In a new survey, online reservation service OpenTable concluded that 51% of respondents also plan to dine out on the big day. 

But with romance in the air and wine flowing freely, it can be easy to overdo it. And given that Valentine’s Day is all about the heart, there’s no better opportunity to keep yours in tip-top shape. So vow to make this romantic dinner a heart-healthy one, with these tips from cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, author of The South Beach Diet and Prevention advisor:

Don’t fear the waiter. “Ask the server questions about how a dish is prepared, even in a fancy restaurant,” Dr. Agatston says. Some heart-healthy substitutions: Ask that your entrée is sautéed with olive oil instead of butter, request sauces on the side, and trade your white potato, rice, or pasta for a whole wheat variety (or swap it for an extra green vegetable like broccoli or spinach).

Drink with care. As a woman, having more than one alcoholic drink per day can increase your risk for heart disease—not to mention impair your judgment where nutritious food is concerned. “If you start drinking before you order, it may sabotage your willpower and you’ll end up making less than optimal food choices,” Dr. Agatston says. Save libations for the main course, and before that, get your cocktail fix with club soda and a twist of lime. 

Go for the surf & turf. This popular sweetheart menu option can be heart healthy—with the right substitutions. “While it’s true that lobster and shrimp contain a fair amount of dietary cholesterol, both have virtually no unhealthy saturated fat, so they’re unlikely to affect a person’s cholesterol levels if enjoyed in moderation,” Dr. Agatston says. His suggestions: Ask for your filet broiled without butter, your shellfish steamed, and enjoy your seafood with a squeeze of lemon and cocktail sauce instead of clarified butter. 

Choose a heart-healthy cuisine. Mediterranean restaurant menus are full of heart-healthy options, especially “grilled or boiled seafood with just lemon, herbs, and olive oil,” Dr. Agatston says. “Steer clear of pastitsio, a Greek version of lasagna, moussaka, and spanokopita.” 

Japanese cuisine is another good bet. Order your sushi with brown rice, and avoid cream cheese-filled or crunchy rolls, Dr. Agatson says. Yet another unexpected heart-healthy cuisine? Indian! Opt for tandoori dishes, dal (a dish typically made with lentils), and raitas (yogurt-based sauces).