Create a Love Potion for Yourself

by Elisa Olivier-Nielsen, MA, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, EON Consulting

In February, we celebrate Valentine’s Day and commemorate love. The heart is the universal symbol of love, so how can we show our hearts some TLC?

Stress is the one of the most detrimental factors that can negatively impact our hearts. From causing inflammation to increasing blood pressure and ultimately causing heart attacks, stress can severely decrease our quality of life and shorten our life span.

So, the first ingredient in our love potion is stress management.

Coping mechanisms may include overeating, smoking, alcohol consumption or medications, but when endeavoring to lavish our hearts with some TLC, healthy stress coping strategies are preferred.

Some examples include engaging in a hobby, finding your bliss, taking hot baths, spending time with people you enjoy, etc., with the ultimate goal to generate more positive energy.

Our next ingredient is physical activity.

The heart is a muscle, so exercise is a great way to tone this very important organ. Physical activity can range from walking to organized sports to dancing! The key is to find an activity you enjoy and commit to regularly, engaging in it for at least 150 minutes per week.

Next, let’s look at hydration.

Dehydration can lower our blood pressure, cause involuntary muscle contractions and reduce oxygen levels in our blood. To support adequate hydration, the goal is to drink half of our body weight in ounces by including water, herbal teas, coconut water and consuming foods with higher water content such as fruits and vegetables daily.

Our fourth ingredient is electrolytes.

Our bodies require an important balance between sodium (salt) and potassium to function properly. Overconsumption of high-sodium foods may lead to high blood pressure, while inadequate potassium intake may lead to fatigue, muscle cramps and abnormal heart rhythm. Ditching the salt shaker and eating more fruits and vegetables (to increase potassium intake) daily will do wonders for your heart.

Our final ingredient is healthy fats.

There are important health differences between animal and plant fats. One of the healthiest fats is olive oil with antioxidants and its monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which reduce bad cholesterol levels in our blood, lowering our risk of heart disease and stroke.

Extra-virgin olive oil is the best choice as it retains more of the natural antioxidants. Lastly, olive oil can also be used when baking!