Heart Patient Diet – Why Fiber Is Good for the Heart
Although research scientists and health experts are still unsure of the benefits of fiber for preventing colon cancer, one thing is certain; fiber is good for the heart, especially for those who must be on a heart patient diet.. Knowing types of fiber and their benefits in preventing cardiovascular disease will help you make choices in your diet that can slow down or prevent arthrosclerosis, lower LDL cholesterol in the blood, and block absorption of fats from foods.
High fiber foods include vegetables, beans, fruits, and whole grains. White flour and white rice during processing have had the germ, bran, and endosperm removed. Along with heart healthy fibers, this process also removes many of the beneficial vitamins. Enriching white flour with synthetic, single-component vitamins simply isn’t the same thing as getting the whole food as it was meant to be, rich in nutrients and heart healthy fiber.
There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Each has its own benefits for the cardiovascular system. Soluble fiber has been scientifically studied and proven to reduce blood serum cholesterol levels, especially LDL or bad cholesterol. Soluble fiber dissolves in water making a gel-like substance. It is found in apples, baked potatoes with the skin, oats, and kidney beans, but not in wheat bran that is loaded with insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber passes through the digestive tract virtually untouched. Its benefit to the heart is that it makes people feel full and may reduce the calories consumed during a meal, keeping off those extra pounds that stress the heart.
Studies have found that people with high fiber diets actually have more fat in their stools, suggesting that it blocks the absorption of fat into the body. It has also been found that certain proteins indicative of risk of heart attack and stroke are lowered in people with high fiber diets.
Be smart when choosing foods, don’t depend on the name of the food. Oat bran muffins may really contain very little fiber- read the nutrition labels to find out the truth about the food you are eating. The American Heart Association recommends that daily fiber intake average about 25 grams per day. Eating a diet high in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables should assure that your heart gets the fiber it needs.
If you have been eating a diet of low-fiber foods, don’t increase to the full fiber recommendation abruptly. This can cause some digestive reactions such as bloating, gas, and indigestion. Take it slow increasing fiber over a two or three week period. A good place to start it with that proverbial apple a day!