February is not just the month of love; it’s also the month of heart health. So this year, why not do something for your heart as well as your special someone? Cardiac surgeon Dr. Hilton Hudson – a SENSA® medical advisory board member – shares his top tips to enjoy a heart healthy life.
1) Say “yes” to antioxidants!
What do dark chocolate, red wine and strawberries all have in common? You probably know that they’re aphrodisiacs, but these super foods also contain antioxidants. So they’re perfect for turning up the heat – and protecting your heart. However, that doesn’t give you license to go overboard: For a healthy dose, Dr. Hudson recommends consuming no more than 1.6 ounces of dark chocolate, and 1 glass of red wine for women and 2 glasses for men per day. Other heart-saving foods include salmon, tuna, almonds, sweet potatoes, barley, cherries, blueberries and grape juice.
2) Enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Cooking at home is your best bet for exercising control over what you eat, plus it’s an easy way to save money. “Always remember to cook using olive oils, not lards,” says Dr. Hudson. He advises first serving a salad with almonds and peppers, dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Another heart- healthy appetizer he recommends is roasted shrimp with rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. For a main course, Dr. Hudson suggests searing and cooking chicken, fish or lean meat in a simple marinade of salt, pepper and olive oil.
3) Eat smart when dining out.
If you already have a restaurant reservation, there’s no need to fret. According to Dr. Hudson, it is OK to splurge a little sometimes, so long as you eat well the rest of the time. That said, it’s still a good idea to use your best judgment when dining out, so you don’t waste calories without realizing it. “Be educated and don’t be afraid to make requests when dining out,” says Dr. Hudson. He suggests checking out a restaurant’s menu online beforehand so you can get a feel for their healthier dishes and plan ahead. Steer clear of anything fried or sautéed, and instead, go for fresh fish or lean meat. Don’t forget that sauces and dressings tend to be loaded with hidden calories, so ask for them on the side whenever possible, or request a vinaigrette salad dressing. And if you insist on dessert, either share it with your date, or go for a lighter option like sorbet.
4) Get moving!
Spend some quality time with your loved one participating in a heart-healthy activity that you both enjoy. Get your heart rates up and break a sweat together by going on an active date like ice skating, skiing, sledding, bowling, hiking, dancing or even walking.
Remember, taking care of yourself – and your heart – is the best gift you can give your Valentine! Need more tips on how to take better care of your heart? Check out Goredforwomen.org and get informed!