Happy Valentine's Day! How will you say "I Love You" to your heart this Valentine's Day? We think a lot about other people's hearts on Valentine's Day. Today, take some time to be good to your own heart.
Our hearts pump every minute of every hour of every day! Here are 5 ways to thank your heart for all it does:
- Stand-up to say "I Love You"! Sitting for long periods of time not only leads to tight muscles, soft glutes, and elevated cholesterol but sitting also slows our metabolism of fat and our blood flow is more sluggish which can cause fatty acids to build up more easily. Give your heart a boost simply by standing up!
- Sugar, Sugar: Limit Foods with Added Sugar. A study in JAMA views overconsumption of added sugar as an independent risk factor not only for cardiovascular disease but also for diabetes, dementia and liver cirrhosis. Added sugar does not include naturally occurring sugars that we find in foods like fruit and milk. Rather, the study looked at added sugar in items like soda, candy and other added-sugar foods that may surprise you like bread and pasta sauce. The study recommends keeping sugar to less than 15% of your total calories each day. This would equate to 75 g of sugar if you consume 2000 calories per day.
- Build it Up! Your heart is a muscle too. So, make sure you give it a good workout each day to keep it strong.
- Be kind! When we're kind, our bodies secrete the feel good hormone oxytocin. David Hamilton, the author of The Five Side Effects of Kindness, says "one of the things that [oxytocin] does, it softens the wall of the arteries. It's funny. It's like a mirror. As you become softer towards people, so you soften on the inside. It actually softens the walls of the arteries. And when that happens, the heart doesn't have to push as hard to get the blood through, so blood pressure drops." Hamilton also says you can get that healthy effect by doing nothing more than offering a smile. (The Healing and Persistent Power of Kindness) Today and every day, be kind.
- Eat some dark chocolate. I know I just told you to watch your sugar intake but you can still have some dark chocolate this Valentine's Day. Really! Just remember to keep your portions to 1 oz or less. Also, keep your dark chocolate to one that contains 70% or more of cocoa for the maximum amount of antioxidants and the least amount of sugar and fat. In small amounts, studies have shown dark chocolate can help reduce our blood pressure and boost our mood.
Now, with your heart feeling strong, don't forget to tell all those around you how much you care about them. After all, why wait until tomorrow to say what you can say today? And, yes, this makes your heart feel good too!