A Heart to Heart

Hello Healthy Friends,

February is National Heart Health Month. Heart disease kills more people in the US than any other disease! It is the number one killer of women. It is important for us to know how to take care of our hearts. Eating a heart-healthy diet, getting regular exercise and controlling stress are important things that we can do for our hearts. Dietary fiber, which is very important in keeping us healthy, can be found in many foods. The body cannot use fiber efficiently for fuel but it is an important part of a heart healthy eating plan. It can help with heart disease by helping to reduce cholesterol. Fiber sort of sweeps through the arteries like a broom, sweeping out the bad fats that build up and cause high cholesterol. That is the best way I can describe the goodness that fiber does!

Where do we get fiber? Fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. These foods also keep us full longer and can help with weight control if you eat these regularly. Whole grains and beans tend to be higher in fiber than fruits and vegetables, but all of these are dietary sources and help contribute important nutrients. Make sure you vary your sources of fiber to get the heart healthy benefits.

Tips to increase fiber:
Mix in oats to meatloaf, breads or other baked goods.
Add beans into your salads and soups.
Add veggies to your sandwiches, pasta dishes or stir-fry dishes.
Blend fruits and veggies into your morning smoothies or use fruit to top cereals,
oatmeal, pancakes or make fruit your dessert!

How much fiber do we need everyday? Around 25 grams or more for women and around 38 grams or more for men is recommended. Your exact needs will vary depending on your energy needs. Consult with your physician to find out how much you need.

Important Note: Drink plenty of water as you increase the amount of fiber that you eat. This gives your body time to adjust and will help keep things moving through the gastrointestinal tract easily. If you are not used to eating a lot of fiber everyday, you may experience gas, bloating and discomfort if you do not drink enough water with it. Slowly increase the amount of fiber that you eat. Be gentle with yourself as you make healthy changes for your heart and for your wellbeing.

My hope is that you take care of your heart, mind, body and soul and, as always, be well!

Sherry Jenko, NDTR, Group Lifestyle Balance Coach

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