With Valentine’s Day next week, we can’t help but have love on the brain.
Food is love. Feeding your family and friends is love. You’ve heard the expression, “the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and it’s no coincidence that everyone ends up in the kitchen at family gatherings and parties. With this holiday of love coming up, we wanted to provide you with some delicious, heart-healthy meals to cook for a date night at home this Valentine’s Day.
But, what makes a heart healthy meal?
You’ve probably seen products at the grocery store with a heart symbol located on the packaging. Maybe you’ve made a purchase because of it, or maybe you didn’t even realize it was there.
Obviously, fresh produce and clean meats and fish are always heart-healthy choices, but we wanted to find out what truly makes up a heart-healthy food.
According to the American Heart Association, “to be certified, a product must meet specific nutrition requirements. The Heart-Check program has seven different categories of certification, and each category has a different set of nutrition requirements. All products must also meet government regulatory requirements for making a coronary heart disease health claim.”
Here are the requirements for a food to be certified as heart healthy:
- Total Fat: Less than 6.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g or less and 15% or less calories from saturated fat
- Trans Fat: Less than 0.5 g (also per label serving*). Products containing partially hydrogenated oils are not eligible for certification.
- Cholesterol: 20 mg or less
- Sodium: One of four sodium limits applies depending on the particular food category: up to 140 mg, 240 mg or 360 mg per label serving*, or 480 mg per label serving and per RACC*. See Sodium Limits by Category for details.
- Beneficial Nutrients (naturally occurring): 10% or more of the Daily Value of 1 of 6 nutrients (vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein or dietary fiber)
For more information on food certification, you can visit the AHA website.
So, according to the American Heart Association, foods with the Heart-Check symbol are overall healthy, but these aren’t the only things to look for when selecting a healthy food for your family.
We recommend taking a good, hard look at the ingredients list to see exactly what is in the product. If there is anything you can’t pronounce or if some extremely unhealthy culprits are present (sugar, high fructose corn syrup, natural flavors, artificial flavors, enriched wheat, hydrogenated oils, monosodium glutamate MSG, aspartame, soy, corn, soy lecithin, etc…) put the product down and run…far away.
Your best bet is to stick to the outside borders of the grocery store where you can find produce, meat and dairy options. The aisles located in the middle of the store are typically filled with unhealthy, processed items that you should generally stay away from (aside from frozen fruit and vegetables which can be smart, healthy options).
Believe it or not, eating heart-healthy can be equally as delicious as it is good for your body.
There’s a common misconception that anything described as healthy is lacking in flavor and satisfaction. The truth is, there are plenty of creative ways to make a tasty, heart-healthy dish. And you don’t have to be a master chef to whip one up.
As promised, here are some delicious heart-healthy meals for your Valentine’s Day.
Make one of these for your sweetheart and give them the gift of health and love through your delicious cooking!
(contains sugar , egg, and dairy – not 100% heart-healthy)
What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!
Yours in Health & Happiness,