February is American Heart Month, and it’s a perfect time to show a little love to your own health.
You probably already know the basics of heart health: eat right, exercise, don’t smoke. Sure, those are all great tips, but here are a few you may not already know about.
Hug a dog.
Studies show that dog owners have a 21% reduction in the risk of death from heart disease. Dogs reduce feelings of loneliness, lower stress, help with depression, provide unconditional love, and increase exercise (all those walks!). Beyond that, hugging a dog gives you a jolt of oxytocin—affectionately known as the “cuddle hormone”. What CAN’T dogs do, honestly?
Don’t forget the dark chocolate and red wine.
These two Valentine’s Day staples contain antioxidants shown to improve good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol, and improve blood clotting function. Just remember to keep them in moderation and your heart will go on (thanks, Celine).
Also, try these recipes for a fix that’s more heart-healthy and indulgent than any box of chocolates.
Eat some fat (healthy fat, that is).
Despite what we’ve been told, not all fats are bad. Salmon is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids which help lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Walnuts are packed with fiber which lowers total cholesterol. Avocados contain monosaturated fats which do all sorts of wonderful things to guard against heart disease. So go ahead and guacamole to your heart’s content.
Netflix and chill.
We’re not talking about THAT kind of chill (although that’s great for your heart too). We mean that taking a moment to do nothing actually does a whole lot for your cardiovascular health. The effects of consistent mediation are great for nearly every aspect of your overall health, especially for reducing stress and blood pressure.
But. If you’re still hung up on that OTHER type of heart exercise synonymous with Valentine’s Day, here are a few ways to spark the fire with three foods to rev up romance.