Forget the oysters and the champagne this Valentine's Day. If you want to keep your true love's heart beating strong, the real foods of love are dark chocolate and red wine, said Loyola University Health System preventive heart specialist Sara Sirna, MD.
"Red wine and dark chocolate taste great and have heart-healthy components," said Dr. Sirna, who also is a professor of medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "We can help fight heart disease and aging and perhaps even boost our romance for the evening by choosing our foods wisely."
Red wine contains resveratrol, which has been found to lower blood sugar and LDL or "bad" cholesterol. It also is a source of catechins, which can help improve HDL or "good" cholesterol and polyphenols, which may prevent the formation of toxic plaque that leads to Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Sirna warns that you should drink in moderation by consuming no more than one 5-ounce glass for women and two 5-ounce glasses for men.
Dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 percent or higher is rich in flavonoids, which help prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries. It also boosts the immune system and contains cancer-fighting enzymes.
Other items that top the list of heart-healthy foods include:
Nuts - The heart-health benefits of nuts have been documented in several large studies, including the Nurses' Health Study and the Iowa Women's Health Study. The FDA reports that eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.