Consuming a high fiber diet is something that everyone can do to help reduce their risk of developing heart disease. Other risk factors, such as family history of heart problems, are out of our control, but we all have a say in what kinds of foods we choose to eat.
Adding more fiber to your diet helps to control cholesterol and triglyceride levels within the body. It also helps overall health by giving the immune system a boost. Another important benefit to consuming enough fiber is that these foods help you to feel full longer and may make it easier to avoid snacking on high calorie, high fat foods between meals.
If you decide to add more fiber to your diet, do start slowly. Allow yourself a couple of weeks to bring your daily intake of fiber up to the recommended levels of between 21-25 grams per day for women and 30-38 grams per day for men. You will also want to make sure that you are consuming more fluids throughout the day.
High Fiber Foods
When you want to add high fiber foods, the good news is that you have a variety of great-tasting choices available. Here are some examples:
- Apples (skin on)
- Baked beans
- Bran flakes
- Bread (whole wheat)
- Brown rice
- Popcorn (air popped)
Adding more fiber to your diet is a simple matter of switching to whole wheat bread and brown rice instead of the white variety for these foods. Pack an apple or orange with your lunch every day – and be sure to eat it. Snack on carrot sticks and air-popped popcorn more often.
Before you know it, you will have achieved your goal of adding more fiber to your diet and you will be well on your way to healthier eating and better overall health.
Including high fiber foods in your diet can help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
The two types of dietary fiber are soluble and insoluble fiber.
For heart health, include foods containing soluble fiber in your diet. This type absorbs liquid and acts as a natural stool-softener. Another way that consuming soluble fiber helps to keep the heart healthy has to do with the way that it binds with bile acids, which are found in the intestinal tract.
Bile acids contain cholesterol, and the body absorbs a certain amount of them naturally. When a sufficient amount of soluble fiber is consumed, a higher amount of bile acids are excreted and cholesterol levels are lowered.
The following foods contain soluble fiber:
- Citrus fruits
- Flax seeds
Insoluble fiber is the type that we think of when we are concerned about irregularity. It doesn’t dissolve in water and helps to reduce the risk of constipation. A diet containing a high amount of insoluble fiber can also help to protect against diabetes.
Here are some examples of foods with insoluble fiber:
- Wheat bran
- Whole grains
Other Advantages of Eating a High Fiber Diet
- Eating a diet that includes high-fiber foods can help to reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids.
- Fiber also helps to lower blood sugar levels, since it slows down the absorption of sugar.
- High-fiber foods are more filling and may help a person to feel full for a longer time. This strategy may help with losing weight or maintaining a normal weight.
- A high-fiber diet may help to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Adding more fiber to the diet is not intended to take the place of regular checkups and screening for individuals who are at risk for this disease.
Many people don’t get enough fiber from the foods they eat. If you want to lower your risk of heart disease, make a point of including plenty of fiber-rich choices in your eating plan. Here are some examples of high-fiber foods you should be eating more often:
- Bran cereals
- Brown rice
- Oat bran
- Peanuts, walnuts
- Wheat bran
- Whole grain bread
- Whole-wheat pasta
If you have a choice between drinking a fruit or vegetable juice, opt for the whole fruit or vegetable if at all possible. The juice does contain vitamins, but it doesn’t have a lot of fiber.