Heart Healthy Hints on Valentine’s Day

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness and Wellness Director - 14th February 2014

Below are some helpful hints to keep your heart healthy, just in time for Valentine's Day!

If you’re buying chocolate for your loved ones, choose dark! 
Dark chocolate that is at least 65% cocoa contains enough flavonoids to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol while improving blood flow to the heart to reduce blood clotting that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.  Just remember that about an ounce a day is sufficient.

Learn your blood pressure numbers
High blood pressure is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” because the symptoms are not readily apparent.  Take your valentine with you to your physician, health club or even a drugstore to have your blood pressure measured so you will know if you are at risk.

Enjoy a delicious dessert that is decadent but not damaging
Did you know that many cheesecakes could be made with light cream cheese and low-fat yogurt to reduce the calories and fat content?
Did you know that an angel food cake has no fat and could be “dressed up” with whipped cream and fresh fruit?
Did you know that if your sweetie prefers the rich and indulgent, there are many miniature or one-serving options of high-fat, high-calorie desserts?

Give your heart a break by making it beat
An average heart rate of 70 beats per minute totals approximately 613,200 beats a year.  Hearts that grow stronger from regular exercise will work well for you with fewer beats.  Even a drop of five beats per minute will save 4300 beats each year.

Do you have a K-9 Valentine?
Think of your dog as an exercise machine with fur!  Taking frequent walks with your “best friend” will help both of your hearts and possibly extend your life.  Interesting facts: those who own dogs feel less stressed and require fewer visits to their physicians than non-owners.  Survival rates for heart attack victims who own a dog are 12% better than for non-owners.

Embrace the Yogic prescription
Yoga soothes the mind, fosters relaxation, and improves endurance and strength—all of which benefit the health of your heart.  In addition, regular practice of this physical form of stress management will lower your blood pressure and help you find a sense of calm when anxious.

Raise your glass
Current research is suggesting that drinking moderately and responsibly is linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in some individuals.  While physicians are NOT recommending that everyone should drink alcohol to improve their heart health, they are noting that one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men can reduce the risk of cardiac disease.