Hot Chocolate, Gratitude, and Other Things That Boost Heart Health
A happy heart is a healthy heart.
As the new year approaches, you may be considering the resolutions you’ll make to start the year off an a good note. Forming healthy habits like eating less processed food and exercising regularly are stereotypical resolutions for a reason — they’re important for keeping your heart healthy. Promoting heart health is one of the smartest resolutions you can make — doing so can keep you strong and extend your life. And, happily, Cleveland Clinic experts say heart disease is preventable. Here are four ways to keep your ticker strong through 2023 and beyond.
Sprinkle this spice.
The cloves you add to baked apples, mulled cider, and holiday ham do more than tickle your tastebuds. In an Indian study, folks who consumed 250 miligrams of the spice daily cut their cholesterol significantly. And every 10-point drop in artery-clogging cholesterol lowers the risk of heart disease by 30 percent. Cloves are filled with eugenol, a compound that combats cell-damaging oxidative stress that causes cholesterol to climb.
Curl up with cocoa.
Drinking a cup of hot cocoa or enjoying some chocolate daily curbs the risk of heart disease, British researchers reveal. Credit goes to flavanol compounds in chocolate, which safeguard against elevations in blood pressure and artery-clogging fats. Tip: Opt for natural cocoa rather than “Dutch processed.” The alkaline treatment used in Dutch processing significantly reduces cocoa’s flavanol content. And check out this recipe for decadent, dairy-free hot chocolate to warm you from the inside out.
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Mini marshmallows for garnish
- Combine ingredients in large pot over medium heat
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted, 5-7 minutes
- Divide and serve, top with mini marshmallows
Count your blessings.
Resolve to take time to reflect on what (and who!) you’re grateful for each day, and you’ll boost heart health, findings from University of California in San Diego researchers suggest. Researchers explain that focusing on the positive things in life lowers the inflammation that can damage blood vessels, plus it counters the stress that contributes to heart disease.
Talk at the table.
Enjoying a friendly chat with loved ones in between bites of your New Year’s dinner is a boon for your ticker. Why? Talking slows you down while you eat, preventing your body from being overloaded by too many calories all at once. This makes you less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a condition that doubles the risk of heart disease, than those who chow down more quickly, Japanese researchers report.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.