How to Make Your Valentine’s Day Healthier

Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all sweet chocolates and high-calorie meals

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

Valentine’s Day and a box of chocolates just seem to be made for each other. If you’re looking for a healthier way to treat your sweetheart, however, there are plenty of options.

Valentine's Day is all about showing your loved one you care. You can show your significant other — from new flame to longtime partner — that you care by showing care for his or her health. Read on for a few healthy Valentine's Day ideas.

Delicious and Decadent

If food is the only thing that makes your valentine’s heart go pitter-pat, find some healthy choices. A fruit basket might be just the thing, especially if you spring for in-season fruits like grapefruit, mandarins and guavas.

Prepare a special dish your sweetheart really loves. If it’s a high-calorie, high-fat offering, make small servings and freeze the rest for later. Or cut the recipe in half or smaller portions. For instance, instead of a chocolate tart, make a few mini-tarts.

Food blogger and board-certified health coach Anjali Shah told dailyRx News that homemade truffles are a healthy way to show you care. Here's her recipe:

  • 20 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Finely shredded coconut flakes

Mix all ingredients except coconut flakes in food processor. Roll into small balls, then roll in the shredded coconut to coat.

Instead of a decadent dinner out, prepare your valentine a heart-healthy romantic dinner. Groups like the American Heart Association (AHA) offer tons of heart-healthy dinner ideas online, and so do cookbooks available at many libraries.

If you’re dining in, set the stage for romance with pretty table settings and candles. If you do go out to celebrate, the AHA suggests ordering one entrée and splitting it.

Seize the Moments

Give the gift of time. Invite your sweetheart on a date where you focus on each other — have coffee and just chat about whatever strikes your fancy.

Bring home some craft materials and make each other a valentine. The AHA suggests you might find a poem or song that best expresses your feelings and copy it onto decorative paper.

You might also volunteer together to help others. Make valentines to take to children or elders who are hospitalized, for instance.

The Corporation for National and Community Service says on its website that people who volunteer may be less likely to be depressed and have lower mortality rates than those who don’t volunteer.

When Only Chocolate Will Do

Nothing says Valentine’s Day like chocolate. However, many chocolate candies include fruit, nuts, nougat or caramel, all of which can increase sugar, fat and calories.

Pure dark chocolate, however, may be heart-healthy — when eaten in moderation. The cocoa flavonols in dark chocolate may decrease blood pressure, according to recent research from the University of California at San Francisco.

The lead author of this research, Yerem Yeghiazarians, MD, co-director of the UCSF Adult Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and an associate professor of cardiology, said in a press release, “Our findings indicate that foods rich in flavonols — such as dark chocolate, tea, wine and various fruits and vegetables — have a cardio-protective benefit for heart disease patients.”

Other Options Abound

Exercise together. It can be something adventurous you’ve never tried, such as rock climbing or ice skating. Or just take a brisk walk and come home to homemade hot cocoa in front of a blazing fire.

Jewelry is another Valentine's Day option. Diamonds are, after all, a girl’s best friend, according to the song most associated with the late Marilyn Monroe.

While jewelry doesn't immediately seem like it would affect Valentine's Day health, it is certainly lower in fat, calories and sugar than candy because you don't eat it. Make sure you won’t break the bank with your choice, though, as overspending can mean extra emotional stress.

Review Date: 
February 9, 2015