Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

Heart health took center stage when Lyndon B. Johnson issued Proclamation 3566 in December,1963. He declared February as American Heart Month and Congress passed a joint resolution requesting presidents each year to follow suit. In that era, more than half of deaths in the United States resulted from heart-related conditions.

In the 2017 proclamation, President Donald Trump stated “The death rate from heart disease in the United States has fallen dramatically since the 1960s . . . [yet] heart disease remains a leading cause of death. . . . During American Heart Month, we remember those who have lost their lives to heart disease and resolve to improve its prevention, detection and treatment.”

 Globally, more than 17 million deaths occur annually from heart related conditions with projected increases in future years. What is more appropriate than to think about healthy hearts on Valentine’s Day? As a day of love, it’s befitting to encourage those we love to eat healthy and to express our love to family and friends by practicing a healthy-heart lifestyle.                                     

      Image result for free heart healthy clip art                                                             

 If you plan to treat those you love with any type of food this Valentine’s Day, make it healthy. Increase the availability of fruits and vegetables, avoid offers of high-sugar, high-salt foods, and provide meats low in fat, especially saturated fats.

As we commemorate a day for hearts, remember to protect yours. Helping yourself and others choose healthy-heart foods can reduce the number of people likely to meet untimely deaths due to cardiovascular disease. It’s the way to honor a national treasure―you and those you love. Happy Valentine’s Day.


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What is more appealing as a token of love on Valentine’s Day than a heart-shaped box of chocolate candies? How did this custom begin?chocolate candy: Illustration of a Partially Open Gift Filled with Chocolates

As with many traditions, St. Valentine’s Day evolved from a mixture of Christian commemoration and mythological folklore. The most popular version of this day’s origin relates to St. Valentine, a priest during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Claudius II in 270 A. D. The Emperor believed single men made better soldiers and therefore forbade them to marry. St. Valentine secretly performed wedding ceremonies for many young soldiers and was, therefore, jailed. While imprisoned, he healed the jailer’s daughter, and before execution wrote her a note signed “Your Valentine.”

Others believe customs of Saint Valentine’s Day originated centuries before from the pagan Feast of Lupercalia celebrated between February 13 and 15. The occasion, one of the most ancient Roman festivals, celebrated Lupercus, the god of fertility. For years the Christian church tried to suppress the festival. By the fifth century, Rome began to move away from paganism towards Christianity. The Feast of Lupercalia became relegated to the lower classes and eventually ceased. Pope Gelasius abolished Lupercalia and later established the celebration named after St. Valentine.

In 1537, King Henry VII of England officially declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day. The holiday of feast and romance mimics portions of the pagan festivities. In the years to follow, participants celebrated with poems and later valentine cards, roses, and eventually candy.

Chocolate had a history as a love food. The Mayan and Aztec elites prized chocolate as a luxury item. By the 1600s, this decadent treat in the form of a drink had spread through Europe with the advent of chocolate houses. Even Marie Antoinette had her own chocolate maker.

In an effort to find use for pure cocoa butter and to make a more palatable chocolate drink, Richard Cadbury in 1861 originated the idea of “eating chocolates.” He filled heart-shaped boxes decorated with cupids and rosebuds with these new confections. Thus he spawned an industry of heart-shaped boxes for sale on Valentine’s that now has projected sales of more than 35 million at a value of over $1 billion. Chocolate became the choice sweet for Valentine’s Day.

By the late 1800s, Milton Hershey, successful in caramel making, began covering those caramels with sweet chocolate. After the turn of the century, he sold foil-wrapped chocolate kisses which today we enjoy year round. Hershey advertised them as a nourishing food.

Then there was Russell Stover whose wife began wrapping candies in her kitchen in 1923. They moved from Denver to Kansas City and opened several factories. The Stover’s sold Valentine chocolates in heart-shaped boxes to department stores and eventually bought out Whitman’s, expanding their focus to big-box retailers like Target and Walmart.

All those famous brands remain today to entice us throughout the year, but especially on February 14. Few now think of St. Valentine’s Day as a religious celebration. The traditions of love and chocolate, however, seem to last forever. After all, Hershey was right. Chocolate is nutritious unless you indulge too much. May your admirer gift you on this special day with a box of chocolates. Enjoy!

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Valentine’s Day is the occasion when we celebrate love. It isn’t exclusive to lovers. We honor family and friends with gifts. Given the choice of flowers or candy, most choose chocolate, and 83 percent of Americans will make their gifting of love some type of candy or chocolate.

While candy can contribute to overweight, it isn’t usually the culprit. Candy was around long before the modern-day problem of obesity. Research indicates that those who eat candy may weigh less, not because candy doesn’t have calories (we wish), but because normal weight people incorporate it as part of a healthy diet. Interestingly, one study of 1,000 U. S. children and teens found that those who ate candy were less likely to be overweight than those who did not. I can attest to that. As a child, my parents allowed me to eat way too much candy, and yet I remained very thin.

According to the National Confectioners Association, depriving oneself of candy to lose weight may backfire. More than 70 percent of adults quit trying to eat healthy because they associate a healthy diet with giving up favorite foods. Not so.

If you receive sweets this Valentine’s Day, keep moderation in mind and ration to less than 100 calories per day. Select small, individual portions of chocolates and candies. If you choose candies other than chocolate, “Treat Right” lists the number of pieces equal to 50 to 100 calories. It isn’t uncommon for me to keep boxed chocolates a year or longer in my freezer. When the urge for chocolate strikes me, I retrieve one piece and leave the rest frozen. If the temptation to consume the entire box overwhelms you, take a piece or two, share with others, and freeze immediately. Take pleasure in allowing each piece to melt in your mouth and last for a long time. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day guilt-free with candy.

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Ah, Valentine’s Day—a time to shower those we love with flowers, chocolates, or diamonds and maybe menVALENTINEd a sick heart.

Are you heart-sick? I don’t mean the tear-jerking roller coaster of shattered romance or an emotional pitter-patter, but the thump, thump, thump of the body organ inside your chest that keeps you alive.

February is American Heart Month. Will you strive to prevent heart disease or make efforts to improve problems that already exist?

Most people know heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The good news is that heart disease or your sick heart is preventable or controllable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends nine steps to help.

  1.  Eat a healthy diet. This means to:
    • Choose at least five serving of fruits and vegetables each day for adequate nutrients
    • Eat foods high in fiber to help control blood cholesterol levels
    • Limit red meats and fatty foods to improve blood cholesterol numbers
    • Reduce salt and sodium intake for better blood pressure control
  2.  Stay a healthy weight. Excessive weight increases your risk for heart disease.
  3.  Exercise regularly. As little as 30 minutes per day on most days of the week helps sustain a healthy weight and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
  4. Monitor your blood pressure. Maintain a resting blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg or less for optimal heart health.
  5. Don’t smoke.
  6. Limit alcohol use.
  7. Check cholesterol levels. Have cholesterol screened at least every five years and more often if problems exist.
  8. Manage your diabetes.
  9. Take your medicine.

Don’t be heart sick. Treat yourself and the ones you love with the gift of life by following and helping them to follow these guidelines. This month and every month, improve your heart-health so you will live to enjoy Valentine’s Day for many years to come.

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What better time to talk about sweets than February. Romantics may express love to their Valentines with a box of candy.  Such treats have lots of sugar. As you gobble down those tasty morsels, will you think about health? Facts about sugars and sweeteners may help salve your conscience. Not all sweets are the same. Those heart-shaped goodies may contain one or all three categories of sweeteners: caloric sweeteners, sugar alcohols, or artificial sweeteners.

The most familiar caloric sweetener is sugar (sucrose). Sugar appeals to all ages. Most folks seem to come wired to enjoy sweet tastes. Is that a bad thing? Are there good or bad sugars?   

That depends on who you ask. According to the American Heart Association, most women should not consume more than 100 calories per day from sugar and most men should limit their daily intake to150 calories. That’s approximately six and nine teaspoons, respectively. On average, though, Americans eat or drink the equivalent of more than twenty-two teaspoons of sugar daily for a total of about 350 calories. To put into perspective, one twelve-ounce cola has about eight teaspoons of sugar.

America’s Sweet Tooth

The use of sugar steadily increased to an average U.S. annual intake of nearly 135 pounds. That’s a lot of sugar, and those calories can pack on pounds. Should you cut back on this favored food item?

The Sugar Association maintains that sugar is not the culprit. Many health professionals agree. Sugar is not harmful in reasonable amounts.

Some people have more of a sweet tooth than others. If you are one of those, keep candy and other sugary foods out of sight. Better yet—don’t have it in your house.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, will that candy affect your health? Will it make you fat? Read next week to find out. You may be surprised.

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