Have a [Healthy] Heart!

So in honor of Valentine’s Day and seeing heart shaped EVERYTHING in the stores, I thought I could focus this month’s food items on: things that are good for your heart!

You thought it was going to be chocolate right?  Too cliche–and by that I’m mean, we’re saving cliche for NEXT month ;- )  Besides, if you pay attention to commemorative months, February is National Heart Month.

Did you know that cardiovascular (aka heart disease and stroke) diseases causes 30% of deaths worldwide?  I don’t say that to scare you, I just wanted to let you know just how prevalent it is.  And it’s not just a disease afflicting the elderly–my cousin had a heart attack and (I think) quadruple by-pass surgery when he was in his mid-30s!

The good news is that there are things that you can do to help lower your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases–and it’s never too late to get started! There has been quite a bit in the news lately about a 12-year study showing a direct link between added sugar and heart disease.

In addition to cutting back on your added sugar intake, here are some other things that you can do to help lower your risk:

  • Exercise every day–start slow and work up to a minimum of 30 minutes a day.  The good news is that every bit helps–from parking your car at the end of the parking lot to taking the stairs to spending part of your lunch break walking around.
  • STOP SMOKING.
  • Eat foods that are high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and lots of vegetables and fruits.  Seafood is great, anything fried is not, and avoid trans fats like the plague.
  • Eat nuts.  Unless you’re allergic, then  DON’T EAT NUTS.
  • Switch everything you can to whole grain, such as bread, pasta, crackers, etc…and you know, be adventurous–try quinoa or barley or other high fiber-no wheat grains!
  • Drink water.
  • Cut down on salt intake.
  • Drink wine–one glass of dry, red wine a day is very heart healthy. Don’t overdo it, though, too much alcohol puts a strain on your heart and is no longer healthy.
  • Stress less.  Learn to let things go or channel them into pulling weeds.  Clear your mind and calm your heart.

I know, I know…not the post you were expecting to see two days before Valentine’s Day.  BUT before you write in to yell at me, I would like to remind you that dark (cacao content over 60%) chocolate is very good for you…just don’t eat an entire box in one sitting.

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