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The Physicians Committee

Take Care of Your Heart this Valentine’s Day
February 14, 2012

Heart on plate with fork and knifePCRM dietitians just released a new report on popular Valentine’s Day restaurant options. They found steak, lobster, cheesecake, and other menu items loaded with fat, cholesterol, calories, and sodium. These foods promote heart disease and other health problems among the 70 million Americans who dine out on Valentine’s Day. Our report may make some of them rethink their plans.

Here are a few of the report’s nutrition findings: Outback Steakhouse’s porterhouse steak has more saturated fat than 29 pieces of pan-fried bacon. Red Lobster’s stuffed lobster contains nearly double the cholesterol a person should eat in an entire day. Olive Garden’s fondue has almost as much sodium as most people should eat in an entire day. Applebee’s Blue Ribbon Brownie has more calories than eight Twinkies. Cheesecake Factory’s strawberry cheesecake has more calories than five cans of Coke.

Exactly how do meals like these affect your health? A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says that excessive sodium consumption raises blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. High-calorie foods promote weight gain. About one-third of U.S. adults and 12.5 million children are obese. Other research has found that even a single high-fat meal can raise blood pressure, stiffen major arteries, and cause the heart to beat harder. In men, fatty diets can lead to artery blockages that cause impotence—a warning sign for heart disease. And the list goes on.

So how do you eat healthfully when dining out? If you are a little choosey about where you go and what you order, you can find many healthy and delicious choices. Take a look at this video on dining out from our 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program:

You can learn more about the dangers of high-fat, high-cholesterol meals and sign up for our April Kickstart program at


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