In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

February 14, 2017

A Guide to Making Valentine’s Day Happy (and Heart Healthy)

By In the Loop

Red wine and dark chocolate may not only be the way to your loved one's heart, they also each hold benefits for their hearts, when consumed in moderation.

Today is Feb. 14. You know what that means, right? Yes, it's Ferris Wheel Day. And the eve of National Gumdrop Day. And just two days until Do a Grouch a Favor Day. Speaking of which, it's also Valentine's Day, and if you've been distracted by other celebrations and find yourself still looking for a last-minute gift, allow us to offer a couple ideas from the heart that are also heart-healthy. Don't worry. It's not kale candies and a fish oil martini. No, these are two things you might already associate with the holiday: wine and chocolate.

Specifically, red wine and dark chocolate. Why? Because, according to a timely post on the Mayo Clinic News Network, red wine and dark chocolate may not only be the way to your loved one's heart, they also hold benefits for their hearts, when consumed in moderation.

"We do know that real dark chocolate has some protective effects on the heart and that it's not harmful," Mayo Clinic cardiologist Carolyn Landolfo, M.D., says in the Mayo Clinic Minute segment.

In regards to red wine, fellow cardiologist Amy Pollak, M.D., says that "a small amount of alcohol, in particular the antioxidants and the flavonoids associated with red wine, can be very heart healthy." She goes on to say that — again, in moderation — both red wine (one glass for women and up to two glasses for men) and dark chocolate can be a great, long-term way to keep our hearts happy, healthy and full of love. "I think you can have the doctor's stamp of approval to have a small piece of chocolate and a glass of red wine on Valentine's Day to celebrate heart health and love," Dr. Pollak says.

And if your own heart is in need of a boost this Valentine's Day, or if you're looking for an option that doesn't require you to speed shop at the 11th hour again (ahem, Cory), you can give loved ones in your life the gift of your gratitude. Consider the always-in-season advice in the "5-3-2 Plan," developed by Mayo's Amit Sood, M.D.

The plan was developed "after years of research and practice," Dr. Sood says. And it includes three simple exercises that, when "consistently practiced," can "transform our lives and relationships." The way it works, he says, is to always let your first thought of the day be one of gratitude — "for five people in your life you are grateful for." Then, the next time you see or meet someone in your family, spend the first three minutes of that meeting treating them like "a long-lost friend" while resolving "to not improve or judge anyone." Finally, for the first two seconds that you see another person, go ahead and mentally send them "a silent, 'I wish you well.'"

And that, to us, is solid, heart-healthy advice for any day of the year.

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Tags: Dr. Amit Sood, Dr. Amy Pollak, Dr. Carolyn Landolfo, Employee Stories

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