I am not sure if the American Heart Association picked February to be American Heart Month because it is the month of the heart holiday - the holiday of love - Valentine's Day, or for some other meaningful or arbitrary reason, but the correlation still stands and so I am running with it. Giving your heart to someone goes hand in hand with keeping it healthy, since you need to be around to give your love (philosophical concepts about the afterlife and the ability to make contact from the beyond aside). To me the best gift is the one that keeps on giving so for Valentine's Day make your gift longevity and make sure you are keeping your heart healthy enough to let it keep the love flowing.
At various time throughout the year I will always stress (no pun intended) the importance of health check-ups for men who rarely do them. For just about every season, every month, every week I can probably find a timely reason to tell you to get a physical but this time it is about your heart. If you don't do it at another time, take February and the season of love as an impetus or reminder to go get that checkup. And remind your significant other to do so as well. Both men and women count heart disease as their number one killer so everyone should get checked out to help prevent and halt any issues that may cause heart disease. Schedule your appointments together and make a date of it.
Another great way to bring your actual hearts into focus at VDay is to turn the traditional dinner date into a heart healthy one. Pick a restaurant that will serve menu items that can provide heart-healthy options, or even better and more romantic - make dinner yourself and do it with heart healthy meals. Few things impress a partner more than a man that can and will cook for her (perhaps my own number one quality to my wife). Then drop on her that you made it 'heart' healthy and you may get extra kudos.
There are many sites that tout what exactly are the best heart healthy foods - including WebMD and Eating Well - anywhere from the top five to 15 or 25 foods. But here are my picks and a sort of menu that you can borrow:
- Walnut Encrusted Salmon (both salmon and walnuts are top rated heart items)
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes (sweet potatoes have Beta-carotene (a carotenoid); vitamins A, C, E; and fiber)
- Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Olive Oil (Asparagus has Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; and fiber)
- Dark Chocolate Soy Mousse with Blueberries (dark chocolate, soy, and blueberries are all on most lists). You would be surprised how good the chocolate mousse is - we love it almost more than regular mousse - and its way easier to make.
- Red Wine (well, you have to drink something during and after dinner, and red wine is heart healthy)
It really isn't that hard to integrate healthy - heart-healthy specifically - practices into VDay and as stated previously, the extra thought involved may mean extra kudos from your SO. If you are inspired, here are a plethora of other ideas from the American Heart Association on Heart-Healthy Valentine's Day Tips.