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Protect Your Loved One's Heart

This Valentine’s Day, make your sweetie a special treat that’s decadent and literally protects your loved one’s heart. Place tasting squares of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or greater) in a small bowl. Slowly add hot water, one tablespoon at a time, and stir continuously until chocolate is melted. Dip in fresh strawberries, or drizzle them with chocolate. Strawberries and dark chocolate both help reduce blood pressure and improve circulation, to take stress off the heart. Plus, dark chocolate contains unique natural substances that create the same sense of euphoria you experience when you’re in love!

Reduce Consumption of Surplus Sodium

An important way to protect your heart is to reduce your consumption of surplus sodium. Retaining excess sodium and fluid can raise blood pressure, which stresses the heart and arteries. To curb your intake, eat more fresh foods, and when you do buy packaged products, check the Nutrition Facts panel. First, read the serving size, then scan down to the %DV (Percent Daily Value) for sodium. This number indicates the amount of sodium one serving contains compared to the maximum recommended daily limit. Comparing similar foods using this info can help you make heart healthier choices.

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, and one of the best ways you can protect your ticker is to eat more whole grains. Studies show that consuming three or more servings each day can slash the risk of both heart disease and stroke. To fit them in, start your day with a bowl of oatmeal, and at lunch and dinner, choose brown rice or whole corn – all three are members of the whole grain family. Bonus: whole grains also help slash the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, and they boost satiety, so you'll feel fuller longer.

Adopt Heart Healthy Habits

Adopt a new heart healthy habit this month – drink more tea. Research shows that tea drinkers have a 20-30% lower risk of heart disease and 40-60% lower risk of stroke. Tea has also been shown to boost brain health, and slow the aging process. Enjoy it hot or chilled. If you need a sweetener, add a slash of 100% fruit juice instead of sugar. Tip: when preparing hot tea, keep dunking the bag, rather than plopping it into the water and letting it sit. The motion helps to release more heart healthy antioxidants from the tea into your cup!