With a record 12.9 million of us being in a relationship in the UK, there’s going to be a lot of love in the air this Valentine’s Day! And even if you’re not, you can follow the healthy tips, too, and love yourself a whole lot more.
Many of us are good at showing our love in the form of gifts and romantic gestures, but how many of us really know about each other’s hearts?
The statistics would suggest not a great deal. Coronary heart disease remains the number one killer in the UK, with 73,000 dying prematurely each year because of heart issues. Every seven minutes, one of us will have a heart attack. It’s a fact!
We can gift all the chocolates, wine and calorific meals that we want, but ideally we need to understand what it means to maintain a healthy heart. Keeping this precious organ in good shape doesn’t have to be complicated. Heart disease can be avoided by sticking to a simple healthy lifestyle:
Stick to moderate drinking only
The positive news is that moderate consumption of alcohol can help to increase your HDL (good cholesterol) levels, while also preventing blood clots. Red wine is especially useful in this regard.
But as a nutritionist I am not suggesting it’s good to drink and want to emphasise how important it is not to over consume! The NHS suggests drinking less than the 14 units per week. Swap the Valentine’s Day bottle of champagne for a small glass of red as lowering the amount you drink will not only lower your calorie intake but helps to keep the midriff weight off, too, which will in turn help protect your heart!
Go for a romantic walk
Undertaking regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to avoid heart disease. You don’t need to spend two hours in the gym every day. A brisk 30-minute walk or cycle can help to maintain a healthy heart and can be achieved as easily as walking or cycling to work. Small daily changes can make so much difference! Enjoy each other’s company out in the open, stretch your legs, and spend some quality time keeping both your hearts healthy.
Leave the chocolate in the shop!
Eating your own body weight in chocolate might seem tempting on Valentine’s Day, especially when so many of us will receive gifts of chocolate from our loved ones.
The British Heart Foundation recommends cutting down on foods like milk chocolate that are high in saturated fat — one of the biggest causes of high cholesterol. With as many as 7 million people living with undiagnosed high blood pressure in the UK, for this Valentine’s Day, don’t gift your partner high cholesterol — leave the chocolate on the shelves. Showing your love by making a healthy meal with heart-enhancing foods such as avocado, figs, nuts, beetroot and pumpkin seeds, will be a sure way to boost libido and help the heart!
Take care of your stress levels
Valentine’s Day is a day of celebration, but it can sometimes be stressful and finding that perfect gift is not always easy. But what better excuse to spend it treating you and your partner to some much-needed TLC?
Stress is a big contributor towards high blood pressure and high cholesterol — both of which put pressure on your heart. Whether home-based or work-based, stress is neither physically or mentally healthy. Book a spa or relaxing escape for you and your partner or offer your partner an evening of massage with calming aromatherapy oils such as lavender and frankincense. Fill the room with calming smells and make a little promise to each other that you will pamper each other far more often than just Valentine’s Day! Touch and physical love and appreciation will fill your hearts with much more than you may realise.
Ditch the cigarettes
Giving up smoking might be the most obvious lifestyle choice to give up when aiming to have a healthy heart. And though the number of smokers in the UK has dropped to its lowest recorded level, there are still some of you who are still addicted to cigarettes — 15.8 per cent of UK adults, to be exact. The chemicals found in tobacco smoke directly damage your heart. They also decrease the supply of oxygen to your body which causes your blood vessels to constrict. Around 474,000 hospital admissions in 2015/16 in the UK were directly related to smoking. As soon as you stop smoking your chances of getting heart disease start to fall — dramatically so after just one year.
If you are the only smoker in your relationship, your secondary smoke will be having similar effects on your partner as it is on you, too. There are few better ways to show how much you love your partner than prolonging both of your lives. Ditch the smell. Ditch the expense. Save both your hearts from disease and live longer, healthier, happier lives together.
For Valentines, if you want to treat your partner to a full health check-up, I am offering the first ten people that contact me and quote ‘Valentine’s Day offer’, to book an appointment for someone they love (and this can be partner, husband, wife, mother, son, daughter etc) for a Qest4 health scan to show exactly how healthy their hearts are, and the rest of their bodies too. This scan is usually £250 and I am giving a 50 per cent discount on this full health consultation.
Check out the details for this test at: denisekelly.co.uk
What better gift can you give your loved one than the gift of health.