Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, so why not show your heart that you care? Be a healthy valentine this year by taking small steps for a stronger, happier heart. It’s as simple as choosing to eat healthier foods, incorporating exercise into your routine, checking your risk factors, and dropping unhealthy habits such as smoking.
Eat healthy foods
Heart-happy foods are not hard to come by, and they are delicious. There are countless whole foods that supply the necessary antioxidants, fiber, and good fats to keep your heart healthy and strong.
Chances are, you’ll be dining out or making a special meal for your significant other on Valentine’s Day. We recommend, for example, choosing whole wheat pastas and breads over the white, refined varieties. Load your plate with colorful vegetables such as dark, leafy kale, bright red berries, and orange sweet potatoes – and it’s actually okay to indulge in a glass of red wine and a nugget or two of dark chocolate.
As for cooking methods, choose grilled meats over those that are deep fried in oil, which reduces your overall calorie consumption as well as saturated fat intake.
Step outside for some exercise
Spend some quality time doing a heart-healthy activity. Go out for a long walk, whether brisk or leisurely, on a favorite walking path or on a new trail in the woods. Grab your favorite winter outfit and try your luck at ice skating. Exercise, even in small amounts, has a positive impact on your heart. Regular exercise has been proven to help with weight management, reduce your chance of heart disease and stroke, and it even causes your body to release endorphins, which are natural chemicals that improve your mood.
Get your numbers checked
Learning more about your own personal risk factors in developing heart disease is another way to protect your heart. Some risk factors such as age and your family history can’t be changed. However, knowing your numbers associated with cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and weight – which are all manageable conditions – is a fantastic way to tackle your personal heart risk factors.
A health screening can help:
A few simple tests can reveal what your personal levels are. The higher your levels, the greater your risk is for developing heart disease, or having a heart attack or stroke. Once you know your levels, you have a clear understanding of what to avoid in order reduce your risk factors and steadily work towards a healthier heart.
Smoking is among the leading causes of preventable diseases and deaths. Smoking is not only unhealthy for your teeth, gums, and lungs, but it also has harmful effects on your heart’s health and dramatically increases your chances of developing heart disease and the complications that go along with it.
Once you’ve quit smoking, your body can quickly and dramatically recuperate from the damages that cigarettes have caused. Smoking decreases your ability to tolerate physical activity, so quitting will also give you the energy to do those extra laps. As far as your heart health is concerned, quitting smoking decreases your risk of heart disease. It also reduces the chances of blood clots to form in your body, therefore reducing your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
Be healthy for your heart, this Valentine’s Day.
By Dr . Chotikorn Khunnawat , Cardiologist, Heart Center, Bumrungrad Hospital
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