Health may not be the first thing on our minds on Valentine’s Day, but our Department of Health (DOH) makes a compelling case for taking care of our hearts.
In the Philippines, 33 percent of deaths related to non-communicable diseases are attributed to cardiovascular disease, and 6 percent are due to diabetes, according to the DOH. “Be kind to your heart. Choose healthier options this Valentine’s Day, maintain a regular diet and exercise,” says Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.
Besides, nothing says ‘I want us to be together forever’ better than a gift that’s thoughtful and health-conscious, right? Here are tips to keep you and your partner’s hearts happy and well.
1. Sweets? Why not a love letter instead! Sure, gifting your special someone sweets is a nice gesture but that’s all it is -- a gesture. You can say so much more with a handwritten love letter or poem! Plus, your partner will surely appreciate the effort it takes to come up with a heartfelt note than a store-bought box of cupcakes. Not to mention, a letter is a permanent keepsake and is a gift that keeps on giving.
Candies and pastries, like cake, cookies and chocolate bars, loaded with added sugars, which contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, says the American Heart Association (AHA). The group recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugars a day for women and no more than nine teaspoons for men.
2. If you can’t resist chocolate, go for dark. But, what if you still want to give chocolates to your love letter and flowers? The DOH recommends going for dark chocolate (skip the caramel) with at least 60 to 70 percent cocoa. According to the DOH, dark chocolate has flavonoids and antioxidants that are good for the heart and blood vessels. However, this also comes with a warning not to overdo it and stick to consuming 30 grams of it a day. Dark chocolate has fat and calories too, and moderation can prevent weight gain, says the AHA.
3. Plan an exciting and adventurous date. What’s your date plan? If it’s the usual movie then dinner afterward, consider mixing it up a bit. Not only to keep things exciting but also to keep you from sitting on your bum the whole evening! For a thrilling date, why not book to join a beginners hiking trip or try wakeboarding at nearby Nuvali? If slow and romantic is your type, you can still opt for a holding-hands-while-walking at a park or stroll through an outdoor mall. We have other date night ideas here too, like visiting an aquarium or going ballroom dancing.
“To improve overall cardiovascular health, we suggest at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise,” says the AHA. “Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember.”
4. Share a meal. Big portion sizes at your favorite romantic restaurant? You don’t have to eat everything on your plate if you don’t want to when you split a dish with your date! It’s not just a healthier option -- it cuts your calorie intake in half, says the DOH -- it’s a cheaper one too. Parang love lang ‘yan, you don’t need a lot when one is enough, right? Also, romantic din magsubuan. 5. Make a promise never to break each other’s heart. Did you know that a person can suffer a fatal heart attack due to a broken heart? It's called the “broken heart syndrome,” and it does happen to people. “This isn't just an anxiety attack. When you do a cardiac catheterization procedure on them, an artery that was previously open is now closed,” Dr. Deepak Bhatt, director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Publications.
Stress can cause real physiological harm to the body too -- including the heart. It can interfere with mood, sleep, and appetite leading to various health issues. So what’s the DOH’s advice? “Be faithful to your partner. Reduce stress and enjoy life more.”