By Leilani S. Junio

MANILA, Feb. 10 (PNA) — Love is in the air as the day of romance draws near and the health department has a few “healthy” suggestions for the incurably romantic.

Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial said giving up smoking could well be the greatest way smokers could prove their undying love to their partners.

“Quitting the habit is the best Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one,” Ubial said as she reminded of the deadly effects of smoking -– heart attack, stroke and cancer, to name a few.

On the other hand, she said, non-smokers could give their loved ones some encouraging words to motivate them to quit smoking.

For those who plan to overindulge their loved ones’ fondness for sweets, the health chief said they could instead send a love song, a love poem or a love letter as this would one day bring back pleasant memories.

But if chocolates are a must, choose dark chocolate, with a 60 percent to 70 percent cocoa content and moderate amounts of sugar in it, said Ubial.

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids that lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, she said, cautioning however that about 1 oz. or 30 grams a day would do.

She further recommended a candlelight dinner at home, featuring a home-cooked healthy meal — with the main course revolving around tuna, milkfish and salmon and dessert consisting of fresh fruits — rather than an expensive dinner in a restaurant. But if reservations have been made, then couples could opt to reduce their fat intake by sharing a meal, with each getting only half a portion of the meal.

Ubial further suggested that couples, or families, could spend quality time together brisk walking at the park. “Walking for 30 minutes is good for your heart,” she said.

However, the most special gift lovers could give each other is the promise to remain faithful to each other, said the health secretary, explaining the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases when one fools around.

After all, she said, loving someone is respecting him/her and ensuring his/her well-being.

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