Posted on February 1, 2016
This month, February, is known as the month for black history, President’s Day, and of course Valentine’s Day. Did you know that February is also the month where we take the time to observe and appreciate our cardiovascular health or our hearts? It’s American Hearth Month!
One simple way to keep up with your heart health is by monitoring your blood pressure. Did you know that there are 5 classifications for blood pressure readings? According to the AHA (American Heart Association) they are as follows: Normal, Prehypertension, Hypertension Stage 1, Hypertension Stage 2, & Hypertensive Crisis.
Do you know where your reading falls?
In observance of cardiovascular awareness we will talk about simple ways to both promote and encourage heart health. The two simplest ways is to engage in physical activity and follow a sensible eating lifestyle. By engaging in these two behaviors alone we set ourselves up for not only a healthy heart but also ways to manage aging, body mass/tone, mental acuity, and of course other diseases.
In the spirit of February and Valentine’s Day let’s take a look at one particular food we maybe able to indulge in. Chocolate or cocoa. Studies have been done looking at the effects of cocoa on our health. The American Heart Association reported in a circulation journal some of these benefits. Specifically, stating that a diet rich in plant-derived foods reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.
The link between these plant-derived benefits and our health come from flavonoids. Flavonoids belong to the heterogeneous group known as polyphenols. Basically, these groups of nutrients are classified as antioxidants. When it comes to cocoa, a plant-derived source, during processing the concentration of flavanols or flavonoids decreases. This is why you read that the higher the cocoa content in your chocolate bars the more beneficial it is to your health. Unfortunately, milk chocolate has the lowest flavanol content.
So this Valentine’s Day it is considered a good thing to indulge in your chocolate. You get to enjoy this delicious treat and help protect your heart! Just remember the darker or more cocoa contained in your chocolate the more heart healthy benefits you will receive. By monitoring your blood pressure, exercising regularly, and eating foods that will support a healthy cardiovascular system you ensure that the beat goes on and on!