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Be Sweet to Your Loved One This Valentine's Day: Protect Their Heart

This Valentine’s Day, instead of getting your special someone the typical box of chocolates, how about trying something that’s both different and healthy? Give your loved one the gift of heart health by providing alternative foods that might lower cholesterol and the chance of sickness. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark files this report.


Dr. Annette Wardell, a doctor in Taylor Health and Wellness Center at Missouri State University, says that problems with heart health can start early. In her work, Wardell sees many young patients who deal with issues pertaining to a weak heart.

“We see a lot of problems starting at a younger age now, even with high blood pressure and diabetes. Occasionally, we do see some heart disease. A lot of times it’s triggered by unhealthy lifestyle, like with energy drinks and excessive alcohol, but sometimes there is some congenital heart problems or some hereditary heart problems.”

Wardell advises that people get their hearts checked early on, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If the heart is damaged, she says, the rest of your body will be damaged, too.

“Problems, heart disease, clogged arteries can even start in the twenties, maybe even as young as thirteen, so it’s very wise to start early and to be cognitive of that, especially around holidays because it’s easy to overdo it. The heart is the most vital organ in the body because it pumps the blood, and if there is damage to it, then it weakens.”   

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, many people give out candy and sweet treats. Although Wardell says this tradition is not wrong, she advises to keep everything in moderation.

“Maybe not a three pound box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but maybe a Dove kiss or two, something like that.”

She gave a few food options to consider when cooking or going out.

“Things like grilled salmon. Some fish such as salmon are high in omega three fatty acids, which are excellent for heart health. Of course, grilled vegetables can taste really, really good without adding a lot of calories. Whole grains because the fiber can lower cholesterol, also. Even dark chocolate can be a benefit to health.”

She recommends lean meats, which is any meat with a small concentration of fat. Her main point though, to keep a healthy heart for Valentine’s Day and for any other day, is to keep all food consumption in moderation and watch out for the fat.  

And, if all else fails, Wardell suggests giving flowers instead. Because everyone, she says, appreciate those.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.