It’s February, that special time of year where everything is colored red and love is in the air. Valentine’s Day makes us all focus on our hearts a bit more, but instead of buying another bag of heart-shaped candies why not focus on your literal heart and the ways you can improve your heart health and the heart health of those around you?
Here are five ways to be good your heart and to the hearts of those you love.
1. Serve a heart healthy dinner
Whether it’s a toasty night in with the family, a gathering of friends or even a romantic dinner for two, remember to serve foods that will go straight to the heart. For example, salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the heart. Consider beans and nuts as add-ins or sides. Nuts like walnuts or almonds contain mono and polyunsaturated fat, while beans and legumes have omega-3s and soluble fiber. There’s nothing more loving than a delicious meal that also says, “I want you here for as long as possible.”
2. Share a glass of wine with someone special
A single glass of red wine has been shown to have positive effects on the heart. While you enjoy the flavors, your heart will be benefitting from the antioxidants. It appears that the polyphenols in red wine may help protect the lining of blood vessels, and the polyphenol resveratrol may also reduce bad cholesterol and prevent blood clots. Most research says that more than one glass a day may not be beneficial. So sip slowly and enjoy your loved one’s company!
3. Hold hands and take a walk together
Whether it’s after dinner or even before you start cooking, take time to exercise together. It’s no secret that exercise is good for the heart, but it’s proven that having a partner to keep you accountable will higher your rate of consistency. Walking daily will strengthen your heart, improve your circulation, and even help your body use oxygen better. And, whether it’s with your spouse, friend, or children, a daily walk will also help you build a stronger relationship along with your heart.
Go to a funny movie, pull out a great cartoon to watch with the kids, or even have game night. Research from the American Heart Association states that laughter can decrease stress hormones and reduce artery inflammation. Find what tickles your funny bone and laugh until your heart’s content.
5. Savor some dark chocolate with your love
Dark chocolate is not sweet like milk chocolate, yet it’s rich in many other flavors. Consider a tasting of dark chocolate, slowly searching for those hidden flavors. While you’re indulging your taste buds, know that your heart is reaping the benefits. Recent studies show that a small amount of dark chocolate reduces the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke.
Being good to your heart doesn’t have to be a task, it can be fulfilling and delicious. Take time to love your heart this month.
February 13th, 2014