How High-Fiber Foods Help Safeguard Your Heart Health

How High-Fiber Foods Help Safeguard Your Heart Health

Only about 5% of people in the United States meet their daily recommended fiber needs. Adding more fiber to your diet offers many health benefits, from improving digestion to reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. Eating high-fiber foods also reduces your risk of heart disease. 

One of our primary areas of focus at Bethel Family Medicine in Brockton, Massachusetts, is preventive care, including the role of nutrition in improving and maintaining wellness. Our staff nutritionist, Susan Andrea, RNC, FNP, helps patients create changes that improve heart health. Often, that includes increasing fiber intake.

This blog explains how high-fiber foods can safeguard your heart health.

Fiber basics

Fiber is a carbohydrate in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Unlike other nutrients in your food, your body can’t break down fiber as it moves through your digestive tract, leaving your body almost the same way it entered.

There are two types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble keeps food moving through your digestive tract, improving digestion and bowel function. Soluble fiber binds with water in the digestive tract, creating a gel that helps slow things down. 

Fiber and heart health

Eating more fiber can significantly lower your risk of heart disease. But how exactly do high-fiber foods safeguard heart health? There are a couple of ways.

First, dietary fiber helps lower blood cholesterol levels. When soluble fiber moves through your digestive tract, it traps cholesterol, preventing you from absorbing it. Cholesterol comes from bile, a digestive juice made in your liver that helps break down fat in your food. 

Eating more dietary fiber also lowers blood pressure. Though researchers are still trying to understand the antihypertensive actions of dietary fiber, they theorize it may help by improving insulin metabolism and weight management.

Adding high-fiber foods

High-fiber foods help safeguard heart health by improving cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight. Adults need 21-38 grams of dietary fiber a day. 

Some high-fiber foods that can help you meet your daily needs include:

You can meet your daily dietary fiber needs by eating a balanced diet that includes nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

When adding fiber to your diet, add no more than 3-5 grams at a time. Too much fiber too fast causes gas, bloating, and constipation. You also want to make sure you drink plenty of fluids. 

Do you want to know more about how you can safeguard your heart health?˚Call or reach out online to schedule an appointment at Bethel Family Medicine today.

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