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5 Gifts for Valentine’s Day: Frugal and Heartfelt Luxuries

As Valentine’s Day looms, your TV belches forth continuous ads for perfumes, diamonds, and flowers. Falling for someone wonderful doesn’t mean you have to fall for all the less-than-wonderful hype. This February 14, consider gifts from the heart for the heart. Each of these five ideas provides a worthwhile combination of frugality, luxury, and all important heart health.

1.  Coach’s Oats

Why Frugal. Costco sells 51 servings of Coach’s Oats for $6.29. A year’s supply for two costs $90.02. In contrast, the local grocer sells 13 servings of Cinnamon Chex for $3.40 (it’s my favorite dry cereal, but Costco doesn’t sell it). A year’s supply of Chex for two costs $190.92. Annual savings: $100.

Why Luxurious. Although it costs twice as much as basic rolled oats, this product’s delicious taste makes the extra expense all worthwhile. The package says it well: “Coach’s Oats is naturally nuttier, has a hearty steel cut texture, and still delivers all the nutritional benefits of other types of oatmeal.”

Why Heart Friendly.  Oatmeal is loaded with soluble fiber, which lowers LDL cholesterol (also known as “bad cholesterol”). My total lipid panel immediately before I discovered Coach’s Oats registered as 199; by the next test the total had dropped to a much safer 156. I’m a true believer in the power of oatmeal.

2.  PG Tips Black Tea

Why Frugal. When it comes to Caffeine Delivery Vehicles (CDVs), you have many choices. Any tea will trounce cola on price and so does PG Tips. Amazon charges $7.53 for 80 PG tea bags, so a year’s supply for two costs $68.71. Costco sells Diet Coke for $0.31 per can, so a year’s supply for two costs $227. Annual savings: about $158.

Why Luxurious. Quite simply, it’s the smoothest tea I’ve ever tasted. The word “Tips” in the title refers to PG’s promise that it harvests only the top two leaves and bud of the tea plant.

Why Heart Friendly. The scientific evidence is not as developed as it is for oatmeal. But WebMD.com reports that “[i]ncreasing evidence hints that the antioxidants in black tea may reduce atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), especially in women [and] may also help lower the risk of heart attack.” One more bonus: black tea contains no additives (so goodbye to diet cola’s Aspartame, Phosphoric Acid, and Potassium Benzoate).

3.  Hoody’s Dry Roasted Peanuts

Why Frugal. Costco sells peanuts for peanuts: $4.99 gets you 42 one ounce servings. A year’s supply for two costs $87. Cashews cost more: a year’s supply for two sells for $315. Annual savings: $228.

Why Luxurious. Compare the luxury of enjoying this ever ready snack to the sheer deprivation that comes from its absence. Because peanuts are high in protein (seven grams per serving), they have greater staying power than other snack-time choices.

Why Heart Friendly. WebMD.com reports that “[a] 2011 review in the American College of Nutrition discovered that nut consumers had lower risk factors for hypertension and HDL (good cholesterol).”

4.  Bear & Wolf Wild Alaskan Salmon

Why Frugal. Costco sells canned salmon for $0.36 per ounce and fresh salmon for $0.62 per ounce. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat two three-ounce servings of fish per week. Annual savings for the both of you: $165.

Why Luxurious. When it comes to taste, canned salmon represents a big step up from canned tuna. The type Costco sells is wild caught, so it hasn’t been farm fed manufactured pellets. Add in light mayo and chopped celery to make you and your loved one some great sandwiches.

Why Heart Friendly. Salmon contains high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s lower triglycerides (the fats that clog up arteries).

5.  Omron Pedometer

Why Frugal. Fitbits use real time metrics to spur you into physical activity. But whereas Fitbits sell for about $100, the high-accuracy Omron HJ-321 pedometer sells at Amazon for just $18.92. Savings: about $80. And if you’re willing to sacrifice a little accuracy in the reporting of your daily steps, it’s easy to find cheaper pedometers. You may even be able to score one for free from your health insurer.

Why Luxurious. No one really needs to own a pedometer, but it’s nice to know that as your day progresses, it does so with your body in motion and not planted firmly in a chair or on a couch.

Why Heart Friendly.  Any device that encourages your loved one to do more promenading is heart-healthy. Many authorities recommend 10,000 steps per day, but when it comes to the health of human hearts, the more walking the merrier—especially when you do it together.

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How better to celebrate a day devoted to matters of the heart than with these heart friendly gifts? If you don’t want to be accused of unbecoming parsimony, consider buying two or more of them. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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