As a former WWE professional wrestler with the moniker “Romeo,” you might expect me to give you some love and romance advice in the month of February. Alas, a love doctor I am not, but I do know a little something about your heart.
February is American Heart Month. What better way to show your significant other how much you care than by keeping both your hearts—arguably the most important muscle in your body—healthy.
The Heart of the Issue:
Let’s take a look at some stats about heart disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.
- About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year—that accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths.
- Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing over 370,000 people annually.
- Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack, and 210,000 of them happen to people who have already had a heart attack.
I also want to bring up a thought-provoking study linking heart disease with excessively watching television. A recent research study found that people who spent hours watching television greatly increased the chances of dying early from heart attack and stroke. Compared with those who watch less than two hours of TV daily, people who sat in front of the TV for more than four hours a day were 80% more likely to die for reasons linked to heart and artery disease. I am not suggesting you stop enjoying your favorite shows, but why not punctuate all that couch-sitting with intervals of movement? After all, isn’t that what commercials are for?
The good news is, cardiovascular disease is preventable with a combination of healthy diet and lifestyle choices. You already know that exercise is important, especially to heart health—so get moving!
In addition to physical activity, there are many foods we can eat to promote heart health.
I recently sat down with Dr. Jeffrey Morrison, founder of the Morrison Center in New York City, to discuss how we can optimize our heart health by choosing the right foods. Here are his favorite foods for cardiovascular health:
Celery promotes healthy blood pressure and is a great choice for a quick and crunchy snack. Try spreading almond butter on celery sticks to double the heart-healthy benefit, since eating nuts may reduce heart disease risk.
Garlic has been found to protect the heart, improve cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure. Crushing and cutting the garlic clove releases the health-promoting compounds, so be sure to crush, slice or chop garlic before using.
Raw beets provide nutrients that enhance nitric oxide (NO) production, which can improve circulation. Shredded beet salad is a great way to eat raw beets. (If you’re not a fan of raw beets, consider Neo40 as a support for optimal circulation)
Dark chocolate has a higher concentration of cacao than milk chocolate, and so higher in “flavonoid” antioxidants. Flavonoids in dark chocolate (>70% cacao) have been found to improve circulation and lower blood pressure. A moderate portion of dark chocolate (1.5 ounces) is a great way to enjoy cacao.
Parsley is a natural diuretic, which helps alleviate fluid retention. High in vitamins K and C, the nutrients in parsley help keep blood platelets from sticking together and act as an antioxidant. Add parsley as a garnish with any meal, or add a hefty handful it to salads and soups.
Before you buy that predictable box of candy for your significant other, consider making a better choice. You might enjoy some dark chocolate this Valentine’s Day, and follow it up with a shredded beet, celery and garlic salad, topped with parsley. It’s a great way to truly show your love by protecting your partner’s heart.
In Good Health,
Giovanni Roselli is a Tier 4 Coach for Equinox’s private training facility “E” in Greenwich, Connecticut. He is a master instructor for ViPR, Animal Flow, and Regressive Skills Training, as well as being a master kettle bell instructor for Kettlebell Athletics. He holds a nutrition certification with industry leader Precision Nutrition. He is a regular contributing author to PTontheNet, David Weck’s WeckMethod website, and lifestyle magazine ‘WAG.’ His television appearances include NBC’s ‘Today Show’ and National Geographic’s ‘Brain Games.’