February marks both Heart Health Month and Valentine's Day, two events that celebrate all that this amazing organ represents: life and love. But did you know that one in three Americans is afflicted with heart and blood vessel disease, according to the American Heart Association? Heart disease is, in fact, the leading cause of death in this country for both men and women.
What exactly constitutes heart disease? As outlined in this month's story “Stress and Your Heart,” plaque buildup narrows blood vessels, blocking the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to your heart and leading to chest pain, shortness of breath, or even heart attack. Obviously, hereditary factors play into heart disease risk, but what you eat and how you react to stress also play huge roles. Luckily, you can change your diet — for instance, eating more vitamin C-rich fruits and green leafy vegetables can significantly reduce risk. Likewise, stress-busting strategies can take the pressure off your ticker. To find out if stress is affecting your heart, be sure to take our quiz on page 27, and check out the expert-recommended strategies for stress-less living. For more advice, including how to lower cholesterol levels, which heart-smart supplements to take, and exercise guidelines to boost cardiovascular health, visit the Delicious Living heart health page.
Once you've checked your heart's physical health, you'll want to feed your passionate heart. This Valentine's Day, consider wowing the person you hold dear with the sensual dinner provided in “Passion on a Plate” (page 32), developed by chef Alan Roettinger. Better yet, create some heat by cooking these recipes with your partner. (Be sure to save room for the Chocolate Rapture with Roasted Pears on page 39.) And look for more great Valentine's Day ideas here.