In 1963 Congress proclaimed February to be American Heart Month. With all of the attention this month on the emotional aspects of the heart, this is also a very appropriate time to focus on the physical condition of the heart. There are various factors incorporated into a heart healthy lifestyle. Weight management, exercise, and a healthy diet all contribute to a healthy heart. All three of these factors can work together to assure that you are living a hearth healthy lifestyle.

Nuts support heart health. Cashews, walnuts, almonds, and a variety of other nuts are an excellent snack. Nuts help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. They contain fiber, vitamins, and the Omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts are a convenient, portable snack to take to work or school. Exercise is a part of a healthy lifestyle. Trail mixes are an ideal companion to take to the gym or to pack for a nature walk. Nuts can also be incorporated into numerous main course, vegetable, and dessert recipes.

Dark chocolate also provides health benefits for the heart. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and is helpful in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It helps balance hormones. Chocolate is considered a pleasure food. Enjoying something that is pleasurable is a form of stress reduction and less stress is always good for the heart.

It is very fitting that February be designated as a month for promoting heart health. Valentine's Day celebrates the emotional aspect of the heart. It is indeed a time for love. Chocolate has long been a popular gift for Valentine's Day. You may want to create a personalized gift basket filled with your Valentine's favorite assortment of chocolate. Adding some dried fruit and nuts to the gift would be a deliciously thoughtful way to give your Valentine a heart healthy gift. Chocolate should be eaten slowly in order to savor the delicious, stress reducing, pleasurable experience of eating it. For many people, love and chocolate are synonymous. 

You could brighten the day for family, friends, and co-workers with a small gift of chocolate during the month of February. Buying chocolate in bulk is economical and also helps assure that you have plenty to enjoy yourself as well as some to share with others.

Let February be the month you begin or reaffirm your commitment to living a heart healthy lifestyle and celebrate love and life each day.