5 Healthy Ways to a Happy Heart
On February 14, hearts are the star of the show. Of course, they don't look anything like the real deal—the hardworking muscle that sets the beat for life every day, all year long.
To show your love for all the beating hearts you hold dear, why not plan a heart-healthy Valentine's Day? These five ideas can get you started:
1. Roses are red…and so are strawberries
Dip them in dark chocolate for a delicious treat that provides potentially disease-fighting flavonoids and phytochemicals plus fiber and potassium—all of which promote heart health. And for a meal that's true to the day's festive hue, include dishes that feature red produce such as apples, beets, cherries, grapes, peppers, and pomegranate seeds.
2. Exercise is one key to a healthy heart
So plan an active date with your heartthrob. Skate hand-in-hand around the local ice rink. Try something new together, like hitting balls at an indoor batting cage. Dance the night away. And make a pact to exercise together regularly.
3. Drink something sweet, but not too sweet
Reduce your intake of calorie-laden drinks like soda and sugary lattes by one and you can cut 100 more calories a day—which could help you lose ten pounds in a year. Instead, juice up a crimson smoothie made of whole foods such as beets, berries, and cherries, and top it with heart-healthy crushed walnuts.
4. Valentine's Day gifts can be both from the heart and for the heart
This is especially true if they help reduce stress. Although stress hasn't been directly linked to heart disease, it can cause heart-related health issues—like higher blood pressure and damaged arteries. Good gifts for reducing stress include: A gym membership A gift certificate for a massage Some scented soap to use in a soothing bath
5. Kids are sweethearts too
To set a healthy example for your little valentines, take them on an active family outing every February 14. For classroom parties, help kids choose healthy tokens of affection, like whole-wheat pretzels (the heart-shaped ones, of course!) or mini boxes of raisins decorated with seasonal stickers.
Valentine's Day comes just once a year. But it's a great reminder to strive for a lifetime of healthy hearts.
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References: American Heart Association; American Institute for Cancer Research; Produce for Better Health Foundation
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