5 healthy Valentine's Day gift ideas

Give your special someone these healthy holiday pleasures

Published: February 14, 2015 06:00 AM

Flowers are nice and candy is dandy, but we've got some Valentine’s Day gift ideas that won't just make your sweetheart happy, but healthier, too. Valentine’s Day is an great time to reup any get-healthy New Year’s resolutions that have gone by the wayside. And couples who make healthy changes together are much more likely to stick with those changes, research suggests. So by treating your sweetie to one of these  presents, you may be starting a trend that has benefits for you, too. And the best thing is that many of these Valentine's Day gift ideas don't require a trip to the store.

1. Deliver breakfast in bed

A good breakfast really may be the key to good health. Recent research has linked it to a reduced risk of heart disease in men, protection against type 2 diabetes, and even an increased tendency to be more physically active in the morning. A healthy breakfast combines protein, whole grains, and fruits or veggies. Our easy breakfast burrito has all three. Serve it with one of our top-rated coffees, such as Blue Bottle Three Africans.

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2. Go nuts

A mix of walnuts, pecans, almonds, and cashews presented in a pretty jar or tin is a gift that goes straight to the heart. Nuts can be good sources of monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which have been linked to better heart health and lower blood pressure. Even better, a fruit and nut basket: In a recent survey of almost 14,000 people by researchers at the University of Warwick in England, those with the highest levels of mental well-being ate the most fruit and vegetables. Volunteers were asked about their diet, confidence, stress, social support, optimism, and mental clarity. The happiest participants ate five or more servings daily. Produce-packed diets may help battle inflammation and chronic disease, both of which have been shown to increase the risk of depression.

3. Give a bar, not the box

Boxed chocolates are pretty and romantic, but all those yummy fillings can take the place of cacao, the compound in chocolate that packs brain and heart benefits. For a Valentine's Day gift, why not give an assortment of dark chocolate bars instead? Look for one that has at least 70 percent cacao, such as one of our top-rated bars, the Valentine’s Day-appropriately named ChocoLove Organic Fair Trade 73% Cocoa Dark Chocolate. It’s a silky chocolate that melts smoothly in your mouth and has a hint of red wine and nice roasted notes.

4. Take your sweetheart for a walk

Or go skiing, ice skating, bike riding, or to a class at a yoga studio or gym. The point is, do something active together. When one partner makes a positive health change, it has a strong influence on the other person’s behavior. A report from The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing involving roughly 3,700 couples who were married or living together showed that when one half of a couple began to exercise, the odds that the other person would become active as well sometime over the next two years increased five-fold. The researchers suggest that when couples decided to change together, they feel more confident that they’ll’ be able to stick with a healthy habit.

5. Hit the sack early

A satisfying sex life can foster good emotional health, which in turn can promote good physical health. Moreover, sex itself may have direct health benefits. For example, research shows that an orgasm or any loving touch may cause the body to release substances that ease pain, bolster immunity, or elevate mood long after the immediate pleasure passes. Indeed, people who have strong, intimate relationships not only have more fun in bed, they tend to have fewer chronic diseases and to live longer, some research suggests. Just hugging is good for you, too. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and other institutions tracked the stress levels, social support, and number of hugs received by 404 volunteers for two weeks, then exposed them to a cold virus. Stressed people who received hugs regularly were roughly 60 percent less likely to get sick. Closeness and intimacy may be one of the best Valentine's Day gift ideas of all.

Trisha Calvo

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