In moderation, red wine and dark chocolate are good health choices not just on Valentine's Day, but for any occasion, according to Susan Ofria, clinical nutrition manager at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.
"You are not even choosing between the lesser of two evils, red wine and dark chocolate have positive components that are actually good for your heart," said Ofria, a registered dietitian at the Loyola University Health System's Melrose Park campus.
Red wine and dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 percent or higher contain resveratrol, which has been found to lower blood sugar. Red wine is also a source of catechins, which could help improve "good" HDL cholesterol.
Ofria, who is also a nutrition educator, recommends the following list of heart-healthy ingredients for February, which is national heart month, and for good heart health all year.
Red Wine - "Pinots, shirahs, merlots-all red wines are a good source of catechins and resveratrol to aid 'good' cholesterol."
Dark chocolate, 70 percent or higher cocoa content-"Truffles, souffles and even hot chocolate can be a good source of resveratrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids) as long as dark chocolate with a high content of cocoa is used."
Salmon/tuna-"Especially white, or albacore, tuna and salmon are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and canned salmon contains soft bones that give an added boost of calcium intake."
Flaxseeds-"Choose either brown or golden yellow, and have them ground for a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, phytoestrogens."
Oatmeal-"Cooked for a breakfast porridge or used in breads or desserts, oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, niacin, folate and potassium."
Black or kidney beans-Good source of niacin, folate, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, soluble fiber.
Walnuts and almonds-"Both walnuts and almonds contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber and heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats."
Blueberries/cranberries/raspberries/strawberries-"Berries are a good source of beta carotene and lutein, anthocyanin, ellagic acid (a polyphenol), vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber."