Brain_Heart02111_dp_articleFor as much as they rely on each other, your brain and your heart might as well be Valentines.
After all, the heart directs about 20 percent of the blood it pumps to the brain, providing needed oxygen and nutrients. The brain, in return, can make wise choices to keep the heart healthy and better serving the body.

Staying healthy and staying sharp are in your control, so be like Cupid and take aim at these factors that affect heart health — and brain health as well:

Eat Better. Too much LDL cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in your arteries, pinching off the flow of blood to your heart or brain. To help reduce the cholesterol in your blood, eat fewer fats and fried foods. Choose fish and poultry more often than red meat; and eat your veggies.

Control Diabetes. If you have higher-than-normal blood sugar (pre-diabetes), take steps to manage your weight. Adjusting your diet and physical activity may help delay or prevent diabetes.

Lower Blood Pressure. You can control blood pressure through dietary changes such as the DASH eating plan or reduced salt intake, exercise, weight management and, if needed, medication.

Quit Smoking. The longer you smoke, the higher your risk of heart attack. But it’s never too late to quit.

“Like love itself, healthy hearts and healthy brains take an enduring commitment,” said Dr. Kate Zhong, Senior Director of Clinical Research and Development for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. “Staying active and eating well strengthens your heart and brain, adds quality to your life, and can show someone special you care.”