A Secret Ingredient for Better Heart-Health

The secret ingredient for sustaining a healthy heart is simple. Fiber.

 

That’s right, Fiber.

Fiber is the key to weight maintenance and improved health.  Fiber provides a satiating factor that prevents overeating, it keeps blood glucose steady, and aids in keeping blood pressure normal.  Fiber helps prevent constipation, effectively removing waste and toxins out of the body.

Fruits, vegetables, and beans and legumes are excellent sources of fibers, both soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber forms a viscous gum that helps to absorb nutrients more effectively and helps to get rid of cholesterol in the blood.   Insoluble feeds the good bacteria in the gut, essential for good overall health.

Americans don’t eat enough of it.  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommends that individuals consume around 30 grams per day for best health, depending on our age, sex and activity level.  The more fiber that is consumed indicates the breadth of fruits, vegetables and plant based proteins that are eaten.  They go hand in hand [i].

 

Strategies for Incorporating more Fiber into the Diet

  1. Switch from pasta to whole grains, white bread to whole grain.
  2. Cast new stars.  When plating dinner, instead of centering your attention on the meat, center it on the veggies and brown rice, and add a side of meat.
  3. Remember that meat never has fiber.  Plant foods never contain cholesterol.
  4. Eat more lentils, beans and bean burgers. 
  5. Eat the Rainbow.  Shop for all the colors of the rainbow when it comes to produce.  More of the color spectrum included means heavier doses of fiber.
  6. Leave the highly processed foods on the grocery store shelf.
  7. Become mindful of eating more fiber.  The keys to success is a gradual integration, over time.  Its a lifestyle.
 
References: 
[i] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

 

Susan Levy

Susan Levy has been on the journey of heart-healthy living for almost 25 years. She's worked with hospitals in over 35 states to hone their messages about prevention and early detection. Susan is also publisher of the website The Well-Fed Heart which offers dietitian-approved recipes that take 5 steps or less and work for home cooks.

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