Whether you celebrate it or not, February 14 can set up lots of expectations—we have decades of romantic comedies to thank for that. The typical date—say, a candlelit, Italian dinner—always sounds like a solid way to bring the romance. But the reality of chowing down on a garlicky, carb-filled meal will leave anyone in a decidedly less flirty mood.
Instead of relying on a fancy restaurant, why not take matters into your own hands? Your V-Day menu can really impact how your evening plays out, whether you’re single, in a new relationship, or with a long-term partner—and when you make it at home, you can be sure it’s packed with the right date-friendly nutrients. And a home-cooked meal is always an impressive move! Here are three scientifically solid ingredients to help you have the best night ever, plus food sources and recipes to help you load up.
If you’re flying solo
Load up on: Magnesium
Instead of feeling lonely and left out—we get it, we’ve all been there—make this day more fun and happy with foods high in magnesium.
A vital nutrient necessary for nearly 200 enzymatic processes in the body, magnesium has been shown to boost mood in people diagnosed with depression. So if you’ve got the blues, upping your intake just might help you shake off some negativity.
Make: Yogi-Lentil Bowl
If you’re casually dating someone new
Load up on: Vitamin C
No matter how much you like someone, those early dates can be a little anxiety-inducing. Sweaty pits, nervous laughter—sound familiar? Enter vitamin C, nature’s stress-reliever. A meal rich in C might help put both you and your date at ease.
According to one study, supplementing with vitamin C not only reduced blood pressure but also lowered cortisol levels in stressed participants. Cortisol is the stress hormone naturally released by the adrenal glands during high-pressure situations. Though a quick burst of the hormone is a perfectly healthy response to stress, constantly elevated levels have some nasty effects on your body.
Foods high in vitamin C: Berries, citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower
If you’re Brad-and-Angelina level committed
Load up on: Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
If you’ve been with your partner for a while, the two of you have seen each other at your best and worst—not even sick days, morning breath, or bad moods could dampen your love—and it’s safe to say you’re pretty comfortable with each other. But perhaps it’s time to rekindle your passion and libido with a meal stacked with aphrodisiac foods.
Set the mood at with some candles and music, and whip up a dinner full of healthy fats, like omega-3s and -6s, to support hormone function (what do you think revs up the libido?). And omega-3s also increase dopamine levels, lending you those lovey-dovey feelings of happiness that wash over you when you first fall for someone.
Foods high in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids: salmon, sardines, walnuts, coconut, pecans, olives, avocado, flaxseed, beef, shrimp
Make: Red Curry Salmon Bowl
No matter what your relationship status might be, these super nutrients are practically guaranteed to take your Valentine’s Day from How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days to As Good As It Gets!
Photo credit: Alicia Cho