Healthy Starts Made Simple: Health
The Fiber-Heart Connection
Most people equate a high-fiber diet with a healthy digestive system. But did you know that certain types of fiber play an important role in heart health too? According to the experts, diets that include plenty of fruits, veggies, and fiber-rich grain products, and are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Here’s what you need to know about fiber to reap its heart-health benefits.
How Fiber Works
Fiber is the part of a plant that the body can’t digest, meaning it’s not absorbed into the bloodstream. Specifically, there are two types:
- Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, deserves a big chunk of credit for helping the heart. Viscous soluble fibers, such as beta-glucan, are found in oats and barley and benefit the heart by helping lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
- Insoluble fiber binds with water in the stomach instead of dissolving, which may help you feel full enough to say no to seconds and curb your cravings for foods higher in fat or cholesterol later on. It has been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals. It is abundant in wheat-based cereals, whole-wheat breads, apples and cauliflower.
How Much Fiber Should You Eat?
The fiber requirement for all Americans is 25 grams per day based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. But estimates show that most adults are consuming only about half of that.
Many plant-based foods contain varying degrees of both types of dietary fiber, but you’ll find higher levels in foods like oats, ready-to-eat whole-grain cereals, peas, beans, carrots and citrus fruits, to name a few. To help get your daily fiber fill, do some advance planning and aim to get a third of your needs in each meal, plus a snack or two.
Get a Head Start on Fiber
Starting your day off with a high-fiber breakfast is an easy way to help you meet your daily fiber quota. For example, one serving of Kellogg’s All-Bran Original cereal provides 10 g of fiber (40 percent of your recommended daily intake). Another tasty choice that’s an excellent source of fiber is Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal, which provides 28 percent of your recommended daily fiber (with 7 g of total fiber).
To up the fiber content of your morning meal even more, top your cereal with fiber-rich fruits, like strawberries (3 g of fiber per 1 cup serving) and bananas (4 g of fiber per 1 cup serving).