As a former WWE professional wrestler with the moniker “Romeo,” you might expect me to give you some advice on love and romance for the month of February. But a love doctor, I am not.
February is American Heart Month. What better way to show your significant other how much you care than to keep your heart — the most important muscle in your body — healthy.
Let’s take a look at some facts about heart disease:
- 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 — one in every four deaths.
- Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 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 happen to people who have already had a heart attack.
I also want to bring up a thought-provoking study linking heart disease with excessive TV viewing. The study found that people who spent hours watching television greatly increased their chances of dying early from heart attacks and strokes. Compared with those watching less than two hours of TV daily, people who sat in front of a TV for more than four hours a day were 80 percent more likely to die for reasons linked to heart and artery disease. I’m not saying stop enjoying your favorite shows, but this goes back to a sedentary lifestyle leading to chronic symptoms.
I won’t belabor the fact that you need to exercise — you already know the importance of physical activity that goes along with a good heart. If you want a refresher, you can check out my past WAG columns, which discuss the importance of strength training and the ill effects of sitting.
Besides exercise, let’s look at some foods we can eat that take care of the heart and blood pressure.
I recently sat down with Dr. Jeffrey Morrison, head of The Morrison Center in Manhattan. His focus is to help patients optimize their health and overcome disease through integrative medicine and nutrition. Here are some of his food recommendations for heart health:
Celery — It helps lower blood pressure and is a great choice for a quick snack.
Garlic — Ideally roasted or sautéed, it is also used as a blood-pressure lowering food.
Raw beets — They provide nutrients to enhance nitric oxide production, which is helpful for improving circulation. Morrison suggests shredded beet salad as a great way to eat raw beets.
Dark chocolate (70 percent cacao) — Cacao is high in antioxidants and nutrients that improve circulation and lower blood pressure. A moderate portion of dark chocolate is a great way to enjoy cacao.
Parsley — It’s a great natural diuretic and helps alleviate fluid retention. You can use parsley as a garnish with all meals and also add it to soup recipes.
Before you run out to buy that box of candy for your significant other on the 14th, make a good choice. You can still enjoy chocolate this Valentine’s Day but now you can be more specific with your selection and help your and your partner’s heart at the same time. Everything in moderation, of course.
Due to the enthusiastic response to last month’s contest, I’ve decided to hold another. I will select a couple to receive a full month Equinox membership to our Greenwich location. In addition to a month’s membership, you will receive a complimentary fitness assessment and a personal training session. All you have to do is either email me at GioRoselli@gmail.com or tweet me at @GiovanniRoselli with a fun photo of how you and your partner are doing something this month for heart health. Feeding each other 70 percent cacao chocolate? Going for a walk together? Shopping for celery? I look forward to your photos.
In good health,