Keep Valentine’s Day heart-healthy

(ARA) – In February, hearts everywhere in the form of candy, cards and decorations. Let them be a reminder of the importance of heart-health.

Along with high blood pressure and obesity, unhealthy cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart disease.

Making simple lifestyle changes can help you to achieve healthy cholesterol levels that can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease.

To gauge your heart disease risk, learn your cholesterol levels by having them checked by your doctor.

The different categories of cholesterol include LDL, or bad cholesterol, HDL, or good cholesterol and triglycerides, which are all independent risk factors for heart disease.

The risk of developing heart disease doubles when triglyceride levels are above 200. When triglycerides are above 200 and HDL cholesterol is below 40, a person is at four times the risk.

Healthy levels in each category are: LDL less than 100, HDL greater than 40 for men and greater than 50 for women, Triglycerides less than 150.

Here are some ways to lower cholesterol on Valentine’s (or any other) Day:

Cook a heart healthy meal by limiting foods containing sucrose, glucose, fructose, sodium, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and saturated fats, and reducing use of organ meats.

Walk, run, and have some fun because daily exercise helps lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.

Instead of giving chocolate to your loved ones on Valentine’s Day, give naturally sweet treats like fruit that will help to keep their heart healthy for years to come.