By Stephanie Stahl

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Whether it’s candy hearts or a three-course meal, spending Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart might not be the best thing for your heart. Americans will spend about $2 billion on candy for Valentine’s Day, a sweet sentiment but a whole lot of sugar and not so healthy.

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So maybe you’ll want to think outside the box of chocolates this year.

“There are a lot of ways to show your love on Valentine’s Day that include heart-healthy options,” said Dr. Jyoti Sharma.

Cardiologists suggest trading sweets for the gift of time and being together.

“So for example, going for a walk together or maybe participating in another activity that the two of you really enjoy,” said Sharma.

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Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your heart.

Making a plan to work out will be a Valentine’s Day gift that lasts.

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The same goes for your kids. Getting in the habit of being active will help keep their hearts in good shape.

Instead of sweets and candy, encourage your kids to collect and give stickers or fun Valentine’s Day cards.

(Credit: CBS3)

As for the tradition of going to a fancy restaurant, cooking a romantic dinner at home is a better heart healthy option.

“When we cook our own meals we are in control of what goes into our mouths and we can ensure what we are eating is a healthy option,” said Sharma.

While it might not make the most romantic date, the American Heart Association has set up free heart screenings at CVS Minute Clinics across the United States this Valentine’s Day and every Thursday in February.

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“You have no idea how to prevent cardiovascular disease unless you know where you’re starting from,” said Sharma.

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Doctors say knowing your numbers – blood pressure and cholesterol – and keeping them in good shape is an important part of staying heart healthy for you and your sweetheart.

Stephanie Stahl