Provided by the American Heart Association
One of every three deaths in the U.S. in 2013 was from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, while heart disease and stroke were the number one and two killers worldwide, according to American Heart Association’s 2016 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update. In the U.S. the data showed:
- cardiovascular diseases claimed 801,000 lives;
- heart disease killed more than 370,000 people;
- stroke killed nearly 129,000 people;
- about 116,000 of the 750,000 people in the U.S. who had a heart attack died; and
- about 795,000 people had a stroke, the leading preventable cause of disability.
Here are some suggestions to make this Valentine’s Day healthier:
- Rather than tempting your beloved with chocolates, consider a gift that has more permanence. Search for a poem that describes your feelings and write it on beautiful paper for a handmade Valentine.
- Quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts. Bundle up and plan an active outing such as sledding, ice skating, gathering wood for a fire, or a simple winter walk.
- Cooking at home is an excellent way to control the quality and amounts of what you eat. Take a date to a local cooking class to practice your skills or learn a new technique and prepare a romantic candlelit dinner.
- Give to one another by giving back. Ask a date to volunteer with you at a local charity. Giving back is a healthy habit that will boost your mood and beat stress.
- Still craving something sweet? Send a fruit basket to your loved one that has natural sugar as well as healthy nutrients instead of sending sweets with added sugars.
- Spice it up – try cooking at home with healthier seasonings and avoid prepackaged mixes that may contain a lot of salt. Instead, add some spice with some fresh hot peppers. Remove the membrane and seeds first, then finely chop them up. A little goes a long way.
- Sharing is caring – if you do go out for a romantic dinner date, order one entrée to share. Many restaurant servings are enough for two – splitting will keep you from overdoing it.
- Don’t forget to love Fido, too! Give your pet a Valentine and remember to walk or exercise them daily – getting active will benefit your health and your bond with your pet.
- Take it slow – if you were gifted a luxurious box of chocolates from your sweetie stick it in the fridge or freezer and enjoy in moderation over several weeks.
- One of the best things you can do for your heart is to give up smoking or help a loved one quit. Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death.
- Rekindle an old flame – try preparing one of your less-favorite foods in a new way. Google is a great place to start looking for new recipe ideas.
- Stay hydrated – staying properly hydrated helps you feel (and look) better and water is a great alternative to high-calorie, sugar-sweetened drinks. Treat yourself to a fun new water bottle to encourage the habit – if it’s always handy, you’re more likely to drink up. Or try one of the many new herb teas that are now available.
- Get active inside – there are plenty of ways to get moving indoors that don’t involve a gym membership; start mall walking, hit the stairs at work, or check out a yoga video from the public library or online. (YouTube is a great source!)
- Make a change – pick one small thing you can change about your daily diet – start drinking green tea, order the nonfat latte, skip the afternoon vending machine visit or add an extra veggie to your dinner plate.