How to make your heart healthy for LIFE

The Good Life Letter 

13th Frebruary  2011

  • Are you tired of lazy advertisers wanting you to be 'young at heart'?
  • How to make your heart healthy it really is easy!
  • A natural aphrodisiac, and it might just help you live longer too

I hate the phrase "young at heart" but never more so than on the run up to Valentine's Day.

It is the lazy option for so many headline writers and card shop owners up and down the land.

'Special Valentine's Lunch for the Young at Heart' ran the poster outside a carvery pub locally. I can't think of anything worse.

Just imagine being trapped inside with a load of aged couples who are trying to conform to a manufactured stereotype, all the while gorging themselves on over cooked vegetables, cholesterol boosting sauces and artery hardening desserts.

All made even more sickly sweet by the shiny heart shaped balloons and cheap banners draped around the place.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but Valentine's Day is becoming progressively more commercialised and it's being cynically presented as a requirement of modern life. "If you don't conform, you obviously think nothing of your partner" is the byline of all the promotional puff.

Far from being an old stick in the mud though, I think that it IS a day which is worth celebrating - just without the tinsel.

The affirmation of feelings between a couple is a really positive act.

Love is good!

My view though, is that like all such events... birthdays, anniversaries & Christmas... you need to give a little thought to your gifts.

Spending vast sums of money on magnificent dinners out or sparkly gemstones might assuage the guilt and generate a reciprocal present, but why not try to give something from the heart?

Last year I woke Lara with a plate full of fresh red fruits: apples, blood oranges, grapefruits & cherries, plus a steaming cup of green tea.

Not just pretty to look at but packed full of health, especially for the cardiovascular system.

You'll note that I tried to avoid too many fruits which were out of season (apart from the cherries but they are her favourite, so I was prepared to make an exception.)

You see, I thought about health, happiness and harmony - it's not difficult or expensive is it?

This year I'm taking a more traditional road to romance ... I'm going for chocolate.

This ancient marvel has been used for centuries to charm women, and is rumoured to be part of the reason for Casanovas success!

Now I'm not convinced that it is an aphrodisiac, but from a scientific standpoint chocolate contains both Serotonin and Phenylethylamine, which are mood-lifting hormones found naturally in the human brain.

When we consume chocolate, we increase our normal levels of both of these hormones, which leads to that feeling of excitement, as well as an increased level of energy.

(More importantly Lara loves the chance to sit with a few squares of chocolate while enjoying her favourite TV programmes in the evening - so how can I deny her?)

But let's be clear, I'm not talking about over sweet milk chocolate which is full of fat and milk powder, I'm talking about something that Montezuma himself would recognise.

Good, rich dark chocolate is a real boon to health.

No really, it is.  How can chocolate be good for us when it contains so much fat?

Well, here's the good news.

Two out of three ain't bad!

Chocolate contains three types of fat, and only one of them is bad for you:

  • Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.
  • Stearic Acid is a saturated fat but one which research is shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.

And then the bad boy:

  • Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.

Combine chocolate with any fruit and you have a perfect dessert. Make it special; melt the chocolate & dip the fruit in.  Who can resist that?

Use the last of this season's satsumas, segment them and dip into a warm bowl of melted chocolate for a real chocolate orange - the natural oils in the fruit help lift the taste of the bittersweet chocolate.

So, if you're considering the heart sinking prospect of a dash to the carvery, a forced party with friends/family or a finance crippling gift - just stop and think about what you really want to say.

Just taking the time to give your special person a hug and a kiss is often all it takes,

Oh, and of course some healthy food.  Happily this time it's another case of a little bit of what you fancy does you good.
Good dark chocolate should be on everyone's list.  It makes your heart sing and lifts your spirits, and that's always a recipe for a longer, happier life.

Enjoy your day this year.

Yours, as always



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