Fiber is a substance popularly known to help improve digestion but, did you know that it can also promote cardiovascular health?
According to experts from the American Heart Association, the consumption of foods rich in dietary fiber lowers the risk of cardiovascular ailments. Studies indicate that diets high in fiber can give the following benefits:
- Lower levels of low-density lipoproteins (“bad cholesterol”)
- Lower blood sugar levels and lower risk of diabetes
- Lower risk of heart ailments
- Lower rates of obesity and better weight management
Fiber is an indigestible substance; it cannot be absorbed through the intestines and, unlike vitamins and minerals, it cannot work its benefits in the bloodstream. It has two types: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is present in nuts, barley, oatmeal, and fruits like apples and strawberries while insoluble fiber is in whole grains and vegetable such as celery and carrots.
Incorporate Fiber in Your Diet
The recommended daily amount of total fiber (a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber) to be taken daily is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, according to the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes. You do not have to be overly conscious about your daily intake, just observe your regular diet to get a rough estimate of the amount your normally consume. You can then try to gradually increase your intake of fiber.
To reap the wonderful benefits of fiber, it is important to start incorporating it in your diet today. Here are some tips to step up your fiber intake.
(1) Consume more whole grains.
In whole grains, the bran (the outer shell) and the germ (part of the seed that would grow into grass) which contain the fiber are still present. According to a study, individuals who take in high amounts of dietary fiber, especially cereal fiber, has a 40% less chance of developing coronary artery disease compared to those who consume a low-fiber diet.
(2) Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetable are not only rich in fiber, but also in vitamins and minerals that can help fight diseases and improve your overall health. It is recommended to eat at least 2 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily.
(3) Limit your intake of refined grains.
In refined grains, the bran and the germ are removed. Hence, when you consume more refined grains, you are missing the fiber and its benefits.
(4) Try a fiber supplement.
While getting fiber from foods is the best option, getting it from fiber supplements can also give benefits. You can try EnergyFirst’s Organic Fiber. Made from Blonde Psyllium, a natural extract taken form the Psyllium plant, Organic Fiber can supply your body with the much needed fiber to help protect your heart and improve your digestion.
Don’t Forget to Eat a Balanced Diet
Too focused on their fiber intake, many individuals forget the other aspects of a healthy and well-balanced diet. Health experts suggest that instead of focusing on certain components of foods, an approach that can deprive you of other essential nutrients, you should think about improving your diet in a holistic manner. Make sure that you are meeting the recommended daily allowance for fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.