Lovin' Your Heart

Ever noticed how the months that consist of that one great holiday just exudes that holiday’s energy throughout the entire month? It’s almost impossible to escape the celebration! February truly gets all jazzed and fancy for its lovable holiday. No one can resist gearing up for Valentine’s Day. An everyday trip to the department store and our eyes can’t avoid the aisles dressed in infinite shades of pinks and reds, spying those plush, adorable stuffed animals that pour into the aisles, scanning the shelves sprinkled with heart shaped everything, including those special hearts stamped with timeless phrases like “Be Mine”. February really rocks its Valentine’s Day. But, those candied, classic conversation hearts could actually be sending two messages this month. Creative-Valentines-Day-Gifts-For-WomenFebruary is American Heart Month. American Heart Month aims to spread awareness of the nationwide problem of heart disease that is so prevalent today. Because of this, the aim of this month (besides passing around affectionate Valentine’s Day cards) is to spread the awareness on preventative measures we can take to reduce our risk of heart disease. This month embodies the essence of education, teaching our nation how to live heart-healthy lives, as well as highlighting organizations and programs, like the American Heart Association, to assist in their research and endeavors.Every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack and about 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year. These numbers are even more striking once one realizes that heart disease can be easily prevented. Just like how I try to enhance lives by compassionately challenging the status quo with PoppyPocket, I want to sprinkle your month with helpful tips and insight that you can use to decrease your risk of heart disease which will in itself improve the quality of your life and you give you that health boost you need to live boldly this month. Weekly, I’ll share a “Lovin’ Your Heart” tip and I couldn’t think of a better way to start off Tip #1 than with… A Heart Full of Chocolate: Valentine’s Day has a dainty way of showering us all with more than enough of its classic treat: those chocolate assortment boxes, those Hershey’s Kisses sitting in your candy bowl, those pink and red M&Ms finding their ways to sit perfectly in those holiday cookies, those juicy strawberries dipped and drizzled in warm, melted chocolate – need I go on? However, as delicious as all chocolates taste, not all deliver the same hearty benefits. darkchocolate According to a new Harvard study, dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure, especially in those participants who had hypertension. It can reduce the risk for diabetes, and decrease the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) while increasing the “good” cholesterol (HDL). We can give all our thanks to one great antioxidant within the cocoa bean that makes dark chocolate so nutrient dense: flavonoid. The researchers suggest that one small serving per day of chocolate that contains 60-70% cacao has the greatest punch of flavonoids with only small amount of sugar intake. So, this month when you decide to treat yourself with some chocolate or when your Valentine wants to give you a sweet treat, think about how your heart will just love you all the more for giving it some dark chocolate. If you LOVE or already know the benefits of dark chocolate, what ways do you enjoy it? Live boldly, Julie P.S. Don't forget to find PoppyPocket on the webFacebook, Twitter, Instagram! Resources: http://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/ http://www.aarp.org/health/medical-research/info-03-2011/dark-chocolate-can-help-lower-your-blood-pressure.1.html Images: Office online clipart : Google Images