Sweet news for chocolate lovers
Snacking on chocolate can help your heart. A recent study found that chocolate helps prevent platelet clumping, similar to aspirin. That reduces the risk of blood clots — and heart attacks. Previous studies have identified several other heart-healthy properties of cocoa and chocolate, which are rich in flavonoids. These antioxidants may lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, and widen blood vessels by relaxing the muscles in their walls. But that doesn’t mean you should pig out on candy bars. A little chocolate goes a long way. Just two tablespoons of dark chocolate a day should do the trick.
Peace and quiet protects your heart
Stress comes in many forms, and none of them is good for your heart. Road rage, traffic jams, noisy workplaces or living conditions, and high-pressure deadlines all increase your risk of having a heart attack. Being prone to anger, overworking — such as never taking a sick day, even when you’re sick — and having a type A personality do not help, either. That’s because your body responds to stressful situations by releasing hormones, like adrenaline, that boost your heart rate, raise your blood pressure, and can cause spasms in your coronary arteries.
Whenever stress gets hold of you, take a deep breath and relax. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress can help safeguard your heart. One study found that stress management techniques, includ- ing biofeedback and progressive muscle relaxation, lowered the risk of a heart attack or other heart event by 74 percent. Just taking a walk or chatting with family and friends can also help.
Pets tame heart problems
Your furry friend does more than just fetch or roll over. Pets also provide top-notch benefits to your heart. When in the company of their pets, people tend to have lower heart rates and blood pressure. They also respond better to stress. So it makes sense that after a heart attack, pet owners fare better than people without pets.
When considering a pet, remember to take into account the cost of food and veterinarian bills, plus the amount of care and attention the pet will need. For instance, a dog demands more time and ener- gy than a cat. If you’re renting, make sure your landlord allows pets before getting one.
- FC&A Staff Writer