Can High-Fiber Foods help in keeping a Healthy Heart?
In my earlier blog, I already spoke about the role of including plant-based proteins in your diet and the importance of it. Having a healthy heart is extremely important for your overall wellbeing and we all know the role diet plays in keeping it healthy. A well-balanced diet containing high-fiber foods along with plant-based proteins can really go a long way in keeping a healthy heart as well as restoring it to health if there have been any heart health issues. Plant-based proteins are naturally higher in fiber and are also associated with a lower risk of heart disease, blood pressure, as well as Type-II diabetes and obesity. People who are gluten-free can also follow the same path by consuming plant-based and high-fiber foods.
Role of a High-Fiber Diet in Improving Heart Health:
While a high-fiber diet has a lot of benefits, we will focus today on its impact on heart-health. Here are some important reasons why:
- High-fiber diets help in reducing inflammation and the LDL levels in the blood, commonly known as the bad cholesterol. An increase in LDL cholesterol causes the arteries to clog which is the major cause for heart attacks.
- Both the soluble and insoluble fiber has a role to play. The soluble fiber will help us in keeping full by increasing the satiety value of the food, and the insoluble fiber (the fiber that is not digested by the enzymes in the intestine also plays an important role because it helps to clean the gut because of its roughage. Due to this, it helps in maintaining a healthy weight which in turn has a direct impact on our heart health.
- Studies have also shown a direct correlation between an increase in fiber intake with a reduction in high blood pressure. A high fiber diet along with a lifestyle change of reducing sodium content in the diet, moderation in consuming alcohol, exercising regularly, and increasing potassium intake in the diet, all contribute to keeping blood pressure under control.
How much of Fiber do you need in a day?
It is a well-known fact that Americans do not consume enough fiber in their diet and this has become a major concern. The challenge is how to get people to consume fiber in their diet. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended daily fiber intake should at least be 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. However, the average most people fall short of about 15 grams of fiber in their diet.
Including foods like whole grains, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables help in increasing the soluble fiber in the diet. This can help in reducing weight along with lowering the triglycerides and LDL levels in the blood and increasing the heart-healthy HDL.
An ideal meal that is high in plant-based protein along with a good source of fiber is a quinoa and lentil bowl. Sprouting the lentil also increases the fiber content and increases the bioavailability of nutrients to the body.
How to Read a Label on a Food Product?
Reading a label can be very tricky and it is due to the courtesy of the marketing companies! There are several terms that marketers use to sell their products and sadly mislead the consumer. For example, a wheat bread does not mean that the bread is made with wheat, it actually means that it only contains wheat as an ingredient. So when shopping for bread you should be looking for one that reads “whole wheat bread”. This is how confusing it can sadly be!
When a label reads that it is a “good source” of fiber, it means that that product should have at least 2.5 grams of fiber per serving. Only if the product contains more than 5 grams of fiber per serving can it be labeled as an “excellent source of fiber” or “high in fiber"
Suggestions on Increasing Fiber in your Diet:
- When grocery shopping, read the labels carefully and look for products that contain at the least 2.5 grams of dietary fiber
- Choose to have whole fruits instead of fruit juices
- Select food products that contain a whole grain instead of white bread or pasta
- Snack on carrot sticks, celery, apples, or any other fruits instead of chips and cookies
- Make sure you include at least one whole grain item with every meal
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!