Have a Heart

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On Valentine's Day, and all year long, we talk about our hearts a lot. We say things like "I love you with all my heart" or "My heart is broken." We say, "That person has a heart for the poor" or "Thank you from the bottom of my heart." The Bible even talks about loving God with our whole "heart and mind and strength." But how much do you really know about the heart God put inside you? Check out these cool facts!

Your Heart's Job

Your heart's main job is to move your blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients to your body. All day, every day your heart pumps and you don't even have to think about it. Your brain automatically tells your heart what to do!

Here's how your blood moves through your body. Take a look at the heart diagram and see if you can follow along.

  • Blood from your body pumps into your heart's right atrium.
  • From there, the blood flows down into your right ventricle.
  • The right ventricle pumps blood out to your lungs.
  • Your lungs fill the blood with oxygen.
  • Oxygen-rich blood pumps from your lungs to the left atrium.
  • From there, blood flows down to the left ventricle.
  • The left ventricle pumps the blood out to your body.

Strange But True

  • Your heart is about the size of your fist. But a blue whale's heart is about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle car
  • In one day, your blood travels a total of 12,000 miles (19,000 km)—that's four times the distance from Los Angeles to New York City
  • An octopus has three hearts: one main heart and two hearts that pump blood to the gills.
  • A hummingbird's heart can beat up to 1,300 times per minute—about 20 times faster than a human's heart!

Heart Parts

  • Atria: The two upper chambers of your heart that act as holding chambers for the blood.
  • Ventricles: The two lower chambers of your heart that pump the blood.
  • Artery: A tube that carries blood from your heart to parts of your body.
  • Vein: A tube that carries blood from parts of your body back to your heart.
  • Valves: Flaps that open and close to keep blood from flowing backwards
  • Aorta: The main artery that delivers blood to your body.
  • Vena cava: The main vein that carries blood back to your heart after it circulates through your body.
  • Septum: The dividing wall between the upper and lower and left and right parts of your heart.

Homemade Stethoscope

Your heart beats about 100,000 times a day—or about 35 million times a year! Want to hear some of those beats? Just ask a family member or friend to help you with this fun, easy experiment. First, get a cardboard tube that's left over from a roll of paper towels. Go into a quiet room and put one end of the tube over the other person's heart. Press your ear to the other end. You should be able to hear the person's heartbeat loud and clear. How cool is that?!

Feed Your Heart

There are lots of ways to keep your heart healthy, like exercising and not smoking. But eating good food is also good for your heart. Try some of these heart-healthy recipes!

  • Sprinkle a bowl of oatmeal with dried cranberries, walnuts, and a little brown sugar. Oats, berries, and nuts are all heart-healthy foods.
  • Whip up a batch of fresh guacamole by mashing avocadoes and adding some salsa and a little lime juice. Avocadoes are full of good fats that are great for your heart.
  • Need a crunchy snack? Make your own pita chips! Cut a whole-wheat pita into eight equal pieces. Separate the top and bottom layers, and brush each piece with olive oil. Sprinkle the chips with a little bit of salt, and bake at 350 F (175 C) until they're light brown on the edges. Whole grains and olive oil are both good for your heart.
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