We made it! With the first month of 2015 officially under our belts, it’s time to celebrate and give thanks to our hearts. Valentine’s Day aside, February is known for American Heart Month, a chance to educate ourselves about potential risks and brush up on useful safety tips.

Cardiovascular disease” (CD) is the number one killer of men and women in the United States and refers to heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. While all of us are at risk, it’s important to know that CD can be prevented and that our efforts to stay healthy do not go unnoticed. Even simple precautions like eating heart-healthy foods can lower our odds tremendously. For example, according to a study conducted at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, individuals who eat nuts at least five times per week are shown to cut their risk of both fatal and nonfatal heart disease in half. And it doesn’t stop there!

Colorful fruits and vegetables, whether frozen for fresh, are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals but low in calories. They lower blood cholesterol and keep us full so that we’re able to maintain a healthy weight. While we want to steer clear of fatty meats and dairy products, fatty fish is ok; salmon and trout, for instance, are both heart-healthy. Perhaps most importantly, it is crucial that we stay hydrated!

Diet aside, happiness and love are great for heart health. What’s good for our minds is good for our hearts, and while we can’t offer each other shields of armor, we can provide companionship. We can foster intimacy and lift spirits; social by nature, it’sessential that we regularly experience emotional intimacy in order to develop and maintain good mental health. By spending time together, we can stay active and reduce risks. After all, shared communication of any kind can bring people from loneliness and isolation into community, and what makes hearts happier than that?

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