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Heart health: fill your heart with love this Valentine’s Day

February 11 2020

This Valentine’s Day show your partner you care by taking care of their heart.

Although delicious, the calorific chocolates and treats we splash out on every year are not doing so much good for our hearts. Sweet treats can contribute to the build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries and increase the risk of blood clots. These are all a variation of cardiovascular disease (CVD), a condition which affects the heart or blood vessels.

CVD can cause painful conditions such as angina, where the blood supply to the muscles of the heart is restricted causing a discomforting chest pain or even lead to heart attacks.

In the UK alone, 7.4 million people are living with heart and circulatory diseases. Causing nearly 170,000 deaths each year, with an average of 460 people dying each day.

To help prevent CVD, you should:

  • Get regular exercise
  • Have a healthy, balanced diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce your consumption of alcohol
  • Try to manage your stress levels

Other risk factors include:

  • Age – CVD is most common in people over 50
  • Gender – men are more likely to develop CVD at an earlier age than women
  • Family history of CVD
  • Ethnic background – south Asian, African or Caribbean background are at higher risk
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Mental health – stress can have an impact on your blood pressure and heart rate causing CVD

With all this in mind, are you wondering how to treat yourself – or the one you love to a romantic yet healthy meal?

Here are a few delicious recipes great for your heart:

Breakfast

Start the day with some blueberry heart-cakes. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, low in fat and a great source of fibre.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ener-g egg replacer
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pure madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of frozen or fresh blueberries (plus more for topping)

Click here for the instructions.

Lunch

Add a twist to your normal lunch and try these quesadilla triangles with a saucy avocado salsa. Avocado is packed with monounsaturated fats which are better for your heart than saturated fat. It’s also great for lowering your blood pressure and reducing high cholesterol.

Ingredients

​ Quesadilla triangles:

  • 2/3 cup reduced fat grated tasty cheese
  • ½ red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Black pepper, to season
  • 4 regular flour tortillas
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Avocado salsa:

  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 420g can no-added salt corn kernels, drained
  • ½ cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Click here for the instructions

Dinner

Try this flavoursome Mediterranean fish stew with garlic toast. Fish is a great source of omega-3 which is an essential nutrient to preventing and managing heart disease.  

Ingredients

Mediterranean fish stew

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 200ml white wine
  • 350ml fish stock
  • 3 strips orange zest
  • 1kg skinless halibut fillets, cut into large chunks
  • 500g clams
  • 400g large raw prawns
  • handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped

For the garlic toasts

  • 1 large ciabatta loaf, cut into 1cm slices
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved

Click here for the instructions

Dessert

There’s always room for dessert, why not try this low in sugar chocolate sponge. This recipe uses soya milk and soya yoghurt which is great for reducing cholesterol and is low in saturated fat.

Ingredients

  • 150g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 75g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 7 tbsp table-top sweetener, heaped
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100ml soya milk
  • 75ml soya yoghurt, plain
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g low fat spread, melted
  • Drizzle of soya single cream
  • Low fat berry compote, ready made

Click here for the instructions

Becoming more conscious of the food you eat and the lifestyle choices you make will reduce your chances of having cardiovascular disease and help you live a longer, healthier life.