February is Heart Month and Valentine’s Day – this is a great time to start taking steps to be heart-healthy. Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is the number one killer in Canada. A number of risk factors, alone or in combination, can lead to increased risk for heart disease:
• Diet high in saturated fat
• Physical inactivity
• Family history of heart disease
• Being overweight
If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes your risk for heart disease is much higher. Diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), coronary artery disease and stroke – particularly if your blood sugar levels are not well controlled. Almost 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through healthy behaviors. That means that habits like eating healthfully, being active, and living smoke free have a big impact on your health!
This year, treat someone you care about to a heart healthy gift. Share the gift of love and good health with these 5 Heart Healthy Valentine’s Day gift ideas.
1. DIY Edible Arrangements. Make your own bouquet by using wooden skewers and a variety of bite-sized fresh fruit such as cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, pineapple and strawberries. You can even dip the fruit into dark chocolate. Choose dark chocolate that is made with at least 70% cacao – the higher the cacao content, the more antioxidants and heart healthy properties (such as fibre and vitamins) it contains!
2. David’s Teas. Indulge your sweetheart with guilt free teas such as White Chocolate Rose, Berry Romantic and Chocolate Macaroon. David’s teas contain virtually no sugar, carbohydrates or calories. Please see https://www.davidstea.com/ for more tea flavors.
3. Cook a Homemade Meal. Instead of going out to eat to celebrate Valentine’s Day, make your loved one a home cooked meal. Researchers found that eating out leads to a higher intake of sodium, fat and calories. Instead, prepare a heart healthy meal that is full of flavor and low in calories. For healthy meal ideas and inspiration click here.
4. Healthy Dessert. If you are looking for a healthy dessert, we have a recipe for you! This creamy chocolate chia raspberry pudding is delicious and so good for you that you can even have it for breakfast! Chia seeds are loaded with fibre, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various vitamins and minerals. Raspberries contain the highest amount of fibre per serving (1 cup) than any other fruit! Click here for the full recipe.
5. Homemade Energy Bites. Skip the box of chocolates that are often loaded with refined sugars and unhealthy fats and make these Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites. With only 6 wholesome ingredients these treats can be made in no time and contain a host of healthy fats, fibre and protein to keep your loved one feeling full and energized.