MANILA, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- The Department of Health in the Philippines urged Filipinos on Monday to keep a "heart-healthy lifestyle" in celebrating St. Valentine's Day this year.
"Be kind to your heart. Choose healthier options this Valentine's Day," Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial told a news conference at the health department, urging Filipinos to maintain a heart-friendly diet and exercise.
The campaign dubbed, Gulay at Prutas Araw-Arawin, Matamis, Mamantika, at Maalat Hinay-Hinayin, basically stressed the need to eat fruits and vegetables every single day and to go easy on sweets, oily and salty foods that are bad for the heart.
"This Valentine's Day, the public is reminded to choose a heart-healthy gift or practice a healthy lifestyle and diet to keep one healthy," Ubial said.
She also urged Filipinos to be more creative and personal by writing poems and love letters instead of giving away sweets and cakes which are bad to the health.
"Instead of buying your sweetheart an overload of cakes, sweets, and fatty foods, why not give a more permanent gift (like) a poem, letter or message. (These gifts) convey more feeling," she said.
Ubial urged Filipinos to give their sweethearts dark chocolate "with less sugar and caramel," adding that dark chocolate is made of at least 60-70 percent cocoa so it is packed with flavonoids and antioxidants which are good for the heart and blood vessels.
"Eat only a moderate amount, approximately an ounce or around 30 grams a day," she said.
"Be active on Valentine's Day. Plan an outing or walk around the park or a mall," Ubial said, adding that walking for 30 minutes is good for the heart.
She also urged Filipinos to cook their meal at home and enjoy a romantic dinner of fish and vegetables at home with their loved ones. However, she cautioned overeating while celebrating Valentine's Day.
"Give your sweetheart fresh fruits. Local fruits that are in season are the healthier choice," Ubial said.
Moreover, Ubial stressed the need to stop smoking. "If your sweetheart is a smoker, encourage him or her to quit. Smoking can lead to a heart attack or stroke," she said.
In the Philippines, Ubial said heart disease is still the top cause of non-communicable diseases at 33 percent. Cancer at 10 percent, diabetes, 6 percent, and chronic respiratory diseases, 5 percent, are the other causes of deaths in the Philippines.
Citing a latest survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Ubial said that from 2008 to 2013 the survey showed an increased prevalence of diabetes and overweight among Filipino adults. However, she said that the survey also showed a decreasing trend of hypertension cases and adult smokers in the country.
She said that the campaign to keep a healthy heart does not stop on Valentine's Day. In fact, she said that the health department is working to rev up a nationwide campaign to promote a healthy lifestyle to address non-commuciable diseases like hypertension and diabetes in the country.