How to Improve Heart Health by Adding Fiber-Rich Foods to Your Diet
December 16, 2020
According to the American Heart Association, a diet with foods rich in nutrients and fiber is crucial to maintain good heart health.
Fiber-rich diets can reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke by 7% to 24%. These diets also help to reduce the mortality risk of cardiovascular disease by 17% to 28%.
In this article, we will talk about the best foods for heart health and how to implement them into your diet.
Fiber-Rich Diet: The Best Diet for Heart Health
Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plants. Hence, fiber is present in foods like fruit, vegetables, and grains.
Fiber-rich foods enhance the feeling of fullness in your stomach. Therefore, these foods are helpful for weight control. They also help to manage conditions like cholesterol, diabetes, and blood pressure. Such conditions are all risk factors linked to heart illnesses.
Guidelines for Dietary Fiber Intake
Before starting any new diet, it is crucial to understand the nutrients your body needs from food.
According to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), fiber intake depends on the next factors:
- Females of 19 to 50 years of age. Recommended fiber intake is 25 grams per day.
- Females over 50 years of age. Recommended fiber intake is 21 grams per day.
- Males of 14 to 50 years of age. Recommended fiber intake is 38 grams per day.
- Males over 50 years of age. Recommended fiber intake is 30 grams per day.
Dietary Fiber: Types and Sources
There are two types of fiber: insoluble fiber and soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is the one that boosts regular bowel movements. This fiber also helps the stomach feel full without the need to eat large amounts of food. Hence it helps with digestion and weight loss.
Foods rich in insoluble fiber are:
- Whole grains such as bulgur, quinoa, whole wheat bread, wheat cereals, brown rice, and rye.
- Vegetables including root vegetables such as carrots, beets, and potatoes , as well as other vegetables such as tomatoes, celery, and cucumber.
Soluble fiber is the carbohydrate that helps us regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Hyperglycemia raises the risk of heart disease. The reason behind it is that high blood sugar damages blood vessels and the nerves responsible for heart rate control.
Meanwhile, high cholesterol levels also raise heart disease risk by narrowing the arteries. Hence, high cholesterol levels prevent proper and healthy blood flow to the heart.
Foods rich in soluble fiber are:
- Whole grains including oats, wheat bran, and barley.
- Fruits including citrus fruits, pears, and apples.
- Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
Tips for Implementing Fiber-Rich Foods in Your Diet
Just as with any other diet changes, we recommend implementing fiber-rich foods gradually. Other tips are:
- Fruit Intake. Aim to eat at least 1½ to 2 cups of fruit per day. You can eat fruit as the main breakfast dish or make smoothies. Also, try using fruit as a topping. For example, add bananas on top of a toast with peanut butter.
- Vegetable Intake. Aim to eat at least 2 to 3 cups of veggies per day. You can try adding vegetables to soups, smoothies, omelets, and casseroles.
- Hydration. Hydration is necessary to avoid constipation from eating fiber. Women should drink at least 2 liters (9 cups) of water per day. Meanwhile, men need to drink at least 3 liters of water per day (13 cups).
At Z.E.N. Foods, we can help you add more fiber-rich foods into your diet. To take a look at our tasty recipes, see our sample menu. For your comfort, we offer meal delivery plans. Reach out to our consultants at (310) 205-9368! We are here to help.