Reduced blood pressure. Lower cholesterol. Healthy weight. What two things do all of these health perks have in common? Number one – they contribute to heart health. Number two – they are influenced by fiber intake. Amazing, but true, that the amount of fiber we consume protects our ticker – among the many other positive outcomes, like reduced chances of stroke and diabetes. With February being Heart Month, now is a perfect time to focus on at least a few lifestyle behaviors that attend to the heart – daily physical activity, stress management, and more fiber, to name a few.
Fiber is considered either dietary or functional. Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plants that comes from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans. Functional fiber is often found in foods that are enriched, or in supplements, and it’s generally created in a lab. Sure, fiber that occurs naturally in food is a great way to go. At the same time, there’s no need to over-think it. Simply aim for an overall diet that includes plenty of high fiber foods, and aim for 25 grams each day for a 2,000 calorie diet.
Many naturally fiber-rich foods contain both the soluble and insoluble types, so there’s no reason to get hung up on type – it’s all good. Soluble binds with cholesterol particles in the digestive system, moving them out of the body before they’re absorbed thereby reducing “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Insoluble has also been associated with a general decrease in cardiovascular disease risk factors, and slower progression of heart disease in those who are considered at high risk. Make sure you are getting both types of fiber in the foods you eat for optimum benefit.
At an average of just 15 grams per day, most Americans struggle to consume the amount of fiber recommended for optimal health (about 25 grams per day for women, and 30 – 38 grams for men). But, reaching fiber goals is 100% do-able.
With 12 grams of fiber per bar including both soluble and insoluble, all-natural NuGo’s Fiber d’Lish bars are one easy strategy for doing this. In addition, breakfast and mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks are perfect opportunities for adding fiber-rich grains, nuts and fruits.
Anne Marie Kuchera, MS, MA, RD, LPC is a registered dietitian, and both a licensed nutritionist and licensed professional counselor. She manages community-based obesity prevention and preventive health and wellness initiatives through Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.