People everywhere are celebrating their love this month but there’s something else that’s just as important to celebrate – the health of your heart and your loved ones too. This month, instead of spreading love with a box of chocolates show your loved ones how much you care by inspiring them to make heart-health a priority. Simple changes like being more active and eating foods rich with antioxidants are steps in the right direction and there’s a lot more you can do as a family.
Set aside time to exercise together. Pick an activity the whole family can enjoy. Whether you relax with yoga, sweat it out in a cycling class, play at the park or go for a hike, there are lots of different ways to be active. It doesn’t matter how you move—just that you do it. While an exercise date may not seem like a romantic activity, it can be a fun alternative to date night and can be a great way to spend time together while also doing something that is good for your heart, body and mind.
Fill up on heart healthy foods. After a busy day avoid the temptation to grab something on your way home and opt for making your loved ones a meal that is delicious, healthy and can be enjoyed by the whole family. The key is to make cooking fun.
For the adults, you can start off your evening with a glass of champagne or wine. Both contain natural antioxidants from the grapes, although they also deliver a calorie hit, too. For the kids – or those who don’t drink alcohol – you can make a yummy non-alcoholic drink by adding a splash of 100% fruit juice to some sparkling water. Red-purple juices like 100% grape and pomegranate are rich in polyphenols, which help to increase blood flow and support healthy blood pressure.
Salads are a great way to ensure you are eating enough fruits and veggies and offer endless combinations so you don’t get bored with your diet. Bold colored fruits and vegetables contain heart-healthy antioxidant pigments called carotenoids. Since carotenoids are fat-soluble, the addition of small amounts of heart-healthy fats will help your body absorb these beneficial compounds from the vegetables. For instance, carrots, tomatoes and spinach (all great sources of carotenoids) can be paired with avocado and a drizzle of olive oil for a heart-healthy combo. For an added crunch, top your salad with roasted almonds, walnuts or pistachios. Phytosterol compounds found in tree nuts are important for maintaining blood cholesterol levels that are already within a healthy range.
For the main course try to increase beneficial omega-3 fatty acids by eating more seafood, or choose other lean proteins such as poultry breast, lean cuts of red meat, and plant protein sources such as beans, lentils and tofu. Fresh grilled fish topped with homemade mango salsa provides heart-healthy omega-3s, which help to control the levels of certain fats in the blood, like triglycerides and cholesterol. Plus, mango is high in fiber, pectin and vitamin C, which also help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean skipping dessert – a bowl of fresh berries drizzled with dark chocolate is the perfect guilt-free treat. Both the berries and chocolate contain antioxidants, but keep in mind the darker the chocolate, the more of these beneficial compounds it tends to have, so the better it is for you. And don’t forget to account for the sugar calories you consume.
Maintain a healthy weight. In addition to eating well and exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight is key to heart health. Eating at regular intervals and keeping portions moderate are two great ways to help keep your daily calorie intake in check. An Herbalife Nutrition Formula 1 shake is a great way to make your calories count. When made with 8 oz nonfat milk, it provides 21 vitamins and minerals, 17 grams of protein and only 170 calories, and is a delicious, healthy meal that is easy to fit into your busy day. Including protein with each meal helps to control hunger so you don’t overeat.
Moral of the story – get outside with your loved ones, work to incorporate more colorful fruits and veggies into your day, focus on heart-healthy fats and maintain a healthy weight. Small changes can make a big difference!