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If Valentine’s Day is all about love, how about showing a little love for yourself and your beloved by indulging in a host of foods that are not only delicious, but also have enough nutrients to keep you fit and healthy from the inside out?

  • Strawberries: No food has a greater affinity with Valentine’s Day than strawberries. In addition to being delicious, these heart-shaped berries are literally good for your heart, with their high levels of Vitamin C, manganese and phyto-nutrients. The high antioxidant levels help fight cancer and reduce inflammation of the joints, and because strawberries are naturally low in calories, fat-free and low in sugar and sodium, they are an excellent addition to any weight management plan.

  • Dark chocolate: If you are planning to give the love of your life chocolates, make sure they are dark. In fact, the darker the better, as dark chocolate is a powerhouse of antioxidants, it aids the cardiovascular system by improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure, and is nature’s most concentrated source of theobromine, a mild, natural stimulant (and a cousin of caffeine), which would explain why eating chocolate makes you feel good.

  • Oysters: Oysters have gained quite a reputation as a natural aphrodisiac because of their high zinc content which stimulates the libido. However, zinc also plays an important role in metabolism and the maintenance of a healthy immune system. Oysters are also a great source of protein and tyrosine. The latter is an amino acid which helps regulate mood and stress levels in the brain.

  • Warm spices: Warm spices such as cinnamon, cumin and fenugreek make excellent additions to all manner of dishes and have plenty of health benefits to boot, including anti-inflammatory properties (cinnamon), digestive benefits (cumin), and as a rich source of selenium (fenugreek) which protects against cancer.

– Marylou Andrew

First published on February 12, 2012, in Health Advertiser in the DAWN National Advertiser.