If you’re shopping for friends and family, or brainstorming about ideas for a holiday gift exchange at the office, here are some great, healthy gifts that will truly make the recipient’s heart rejoice.

  • Dark chocolate. When Hippocrates wrote, “Let food be thy medicine,” he may have been referring to dark chocolate, which has such a wide array of cardiovascular benefits that the BaleDoneen Method prescribes 7 grams of dark chocolate daily (one small square) for heart attack and stroke prevention. Nibbling on the sweet treat may also protect against cancer, some studies suggest.
  • A home blood pressure monitor. Under new medical guidelines, nearly 50% of U.S. adults now qualify as having high blood pressure (a reading of 130/90 mmHg or above). Home blood pressure monitors are an important way for people in this category to track their health, with a recent study showing that morning blood pressure is the best predictor of heart attack and stroke risk. However, it’s crucial to know the right technique. When using a wrist blood-pressure cuff, the reading will be inaccurate unless the device is positioned at heart level. A good way to tell if the device is correctly positioned is to hold the arm with the BP cuff across your chest as you would if the national anthem were playing.
  • A copy of Beat the Heart Attack Gene. Give your loved ones inspiration and a comprehensive, personalized heart attack and stroke prevention plan with the bestselling BaleDoneen book, Beat the Heart Attack Gene, now available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon. “Not only does this book show you how to optimize your heart and brain health, but following the plan could save your life,” says bestselling author Daniel Amen, MD.
  • Fresh fruit. A fruit basket or a subscription to a fruit-of-the-month club serves as a delicious reminder of the cardiovascular benefits of eating fresh produce daily. In large studies, people who eat the most fruit and veggies daily have the lowest risk for stroke. And there’s even research showing that eating an apple a day helps keep the cardiologist away by lowering heart attack risk!
  • A sonic toothbrush. A landmark peer-reviewed BaleDoneen publication is the first to identify that periodontal disease (PD) due to high-risk oral bacteria can actually cause cardiovascular disease. The BaleDoneen Method recommends brushing twice a day with a sonic toothbrush, along with flossing and regular dental care, as key ways to optimize both oral and arterial health. .
  • Water backpack. If someone on your gift list is an avid jogger, hiker or bicyclist, a water backpack ensures easy, hands-free hydration that helps protect heart health. In a recent study of more than 20,000 people, those who drank five or more glasses of water daily had half the risk for fatal heart disease than those who quaffed two or fewer glasses daily, even when other risk factors were taken into account.
  • A Zen sand garden. Mindful meditation is a great stress-reliever with proven cardiovascular benefits. Several companies sell versions of the traditional Japanese meditative garden done in miniature sizes that are perfect for a desk or coffee table. Look for a set with a wooden frame, sand, one or more small rakes to create meditative designs, and a booklet with helpful instructions. Some sets also include polished stones to enhance the garden’s tranquil design, and extra-small sets are available for travel.
  • Resistance bands. An excellent option for a wide range of fitness needs, resistance bands are a great choice for people who travel frequently and may not always have access to a gym or weights for strength training. Look for a set that includes tubes, handles, ankle straps, a door anchor and a travel bag for convenient storage.