Chocolates and roses and jewelry—oh my! Many people are looking for ways to sweep their Valentines off their feet. But those rich meals, glasses of champagne, and sweets might lead to an energy crash that can leave you more “wired and tired” than “hot and heavy.” We’ve compiled some tips to get your heart pumping—in more ways than one with a healthy Valentine’s Day. Read on to learn the truth about cocoa, the science behind aphrodisiacs, and the benefits of partner workouts.

Sugar-Laden And Flavonol-Depleted Valentine’s Day Sweets

It’s not Valentine’s Day without candies lovingly placed on your beloved’s pillow. But are those chocolate hearts weighing you down? While science suggests chocolate isn’t much of a libido enhancer, there is some evidence that cocoa—or rather compounds in cocoa known as flavanols—might have cardiometabolic protective effects, reduce arterial stiffness, and reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress. But before you chow down on that chocolate bar, note that processed chocolate products often have little to none of the flavanol content of cocoa. Not to mention the added sugar in processed chocolate products would far outweigh any potential benefits. So if you are looking to boost flavanol intake while minimizing sugar, make your sweetheart a delicious savory cocoa-based molé sauce for healthy Valentine’s Day dinner.

Aphrodisiacs: On A Plate Or In Your Head?

Speaking of cooking dinner, did you know that giving gifts and sharing meals with your beloved releases oxytocin—the same bonding hormone released after sex? The simple act of eating a special meal with your partner can stir up deep feelings of intimacy. But does the actual food you eat help you “get in the mood”? According to science, the most accurate answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. For example, oysters are commonly considered to be an aphrodisiac, but evidence suggests they don’t do much to turn you on—though they can put you in a better mood via a serotonin boost. However, early trials indicate that the Peruvian maca root and Asian ginkgo biloba plant might help increase blood flow—making arousal easier. And red ginseng holds libido-enhancing potential—especially for menopausal women. Even a little red wine—1 glass a day—is linked with improving sexual desire and lubrication in women. Just be cautious of anything that bills itself as a “magic pill”—as many “natural” products on the market, such as Spanish fly and yohimbine, might be adulterated with Viagra and be detrimental to your health.

Exercise: The Best And Better Libido Enhancer

One natural way to increase libido—and improve overall health—is exercise. That’s why you might want to opt for a partner workout instead of a night of Netflix. Partner workouts compound the benefits of exercise with the intimacy-boosting effects of spending time with your sweetie. You and your beloved can get your blood flowing (in all the right places) with a hike, jog, or yoga class for a healthy Valentine’s Day date that might just become a regular thing. Working out with your partner also increases accountability and provides motivation and additional support when you start to flag. Working out with a partner makes it possible to perform certain strength exercises such as shadowing drills and sleds. You can also get creative—and up the ante—with basic exercises, such as passing a dumbbell back and forth while doing side plank. Plus it’s just more fun hanging out with your sweetie than logging miles on a treadmill by yourself.

This year, stimulate your appetite for connection with a partner workout followed by sharing a special healthy meal with your beloved—topped with a dark cocoa or maca-infused dessert for a healthy Valentine’s Day. Your significant other will definitely thank you for your care and creativity.

At Health IQ we’ve created and are consistently refining an engaging, self-driven health literacy platform that can support ongoing inspiration in your health journey. For more healthy Valentine’s Day tips, take our featured quizzes on cocoa, libido enhancers, and partner workouts.