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Fiber strengthens your heart, oatmeal and these fruits have it

Harold Mandel's picture
A high fiber bowl of oatmeal and fruit

There has been a lot of talk about the vital importance of a healthy lifestyle for a healthy heart. It is generally well recognized that regular aerobic exercise will help to keep your heart in good shape. However, it's also important to eat well to maintain cardiovascular health, and one important factor in a heart healthy diet is to eat foods which have a lot of fiber.

The American Heart Association points out that along with a diet which is low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, also consuming soluble fiber is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels are reduced with this type of diet. The highest amount of soluble fiber is found in oats. There are a lot of other foods which also have a high content of fiber, such as citrus fruits, oat bran and beans.

MayoClinic highlights that dietary fiber, which is found primarily in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, has a reputation for helping to prevent or relieve constipation. Foods containing fiber can also help you maintain a healthy weight and decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Some delicious fruits and vegetables to consider adding to your diet daily include:

  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Corn
  • Lettuce
  • Celery

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A new study, which has been published in the American Journal of Medicine, concludes that people who do not have enough fiber in their diet appear to be at an increased risk for poor heart health. This study highlights that far too many Americans simply do not eat enough fiber.

An analysis of data was done from over 20,000 adults between 1999 and 2010 and found low fiber intake was clearly associated with obesity, inflammation and metabolic syndrome, all of which are high risk factors for heart disease. Although studies over the years have shown that dietary fiber is generally helpful in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation, far too many Americans still have not been eating enough fiber.

The general recommendation by the Institute of Medicine for men between 19 and 50 is 38 grams of fiber a day, and 30 grams a day for men who are over 50. 25 grams of fiber a day is recommended for women between 19 to 50, and 21 grams daily for women who are over 50. However, the researchers, with institutional financial support provided from Partners HealthCare and the Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Community Health and Health Equity and funding from the National Institute on Aging, found that participants consumed only about 16 grams of fiber daily. Clearly, as the study concludes, it is advisable to work on new on strategies and policies aimed at increasing dietary fiber intake.

I personally feel much better since I committed myself to a heart healthy way of life at middle age. In fact at 59 years old I think I have the endurance of many men who are in their thirties because I have committed myself to a minimum of thirty minutes of aerobic exercise daily, in the form of a long brisk walk, and a heart healthy diet which includes a lot of fresh fish, vegetables, and fruit, which are good natural sources of fiber. I also drink a lot of fresh water daily.

Of paramount importance has also been not just an avoidance of smoking and alcohol, but also staying away from people who smoke and drink too much. And of course illicit drugs are out of the picture along with great caution in dealing with any prescribed drugs. My blood pressure and cholesterol are within normal limits without drugs and my weight is pretty good due to my healthy way of life. You too can feel younger and more energetic and actually achieve better cardiovascular health if you commit yourself to such a healthy lifestyle and diet. But, remember, do not forget to include eating a lot of fiber rich foods daily in your plans to achieve better health.