Wow, it’s February already. You’d never know it, based on the mild temps we’ve been seeing here in the Northeast. In fact, I saw some daffodils peeking through Mama Earth today, which is always a surefire sign of spring. I’m sure we’ll be paying for these balmy temps come May, when we are hit with a Memorial Day blizzard.
Besides being the month associated with lots of love and Valentine hearts, February is also known to be American Heart Month, a 28-day campaign led by the American Heart Association (AHA) to spread awareness and educate people about heart health. Heart disease, also known as the “silent killer”, is the #1 cause of death in men and women. According to the AHA, cardiovascular disease kills more Americans than the next five most common illnesses combined – including all forms of cancer. Yikes, those are some scary stats.
And family history aside, like many other chronic diseases, it is preventable. Diet and exercise play a key role in lowering your chances of succumbing to this fate. And yes, walking every day counts as regular exercise. So do burpees.
So going back to diet. One of the key components to a heart-healthy diet is…wait for it…fiber! Precisely WHY I love it so! The soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol levels. It does this by interfering with its absorption in the digestive tract. Studies have shown that increased fiber in the diet can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, which also promotes heart health.
In addition, a diet rich in whole grains, which has high levels of plant lignans, a phytonutrient that protects against heart disease, has been linked to slowing the progression of atherosclerosis, preventing heart failure, and improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The National Fiber Council recommends an average of 32 grams of fiber per day for a healthy adult. Some requiring more and some less. Unfortunately, this is a major struggle for many, with most of the American population only getting about 50% of their recommended daily fiber intake (approximately 12 – 17 grams), if that. My personal preference is that if your body can tolerate it, the higher your intake, the better.
Not sure how to make this happen? Well for starters (shameless plug alert!), you should definitely subscribe to and follow the only blog that is devoted to LOVING fiber. You’ll get recipes, tips, and other fun fiber facts. Swap out whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat pasta and bread, for refined (white) grains. My personal favorite (and yours too, once you try it) is Mara’s Pasta. It is the only whole wheat pasta on the planet that actually tastes good. It’s smooth and sweet, not grainy, chewy, or bitter. In other words, it doesn’t taste like cardboard. You can also check out some of these easy tips for boosting your daily fiber intake.
If you’re still stuck and want to improve your overall health, I can help with that too. To book a free, no obligation 30 minute consultation, click here.
Here’s to your heart health!
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Image courtesy of Lauren Tucker Photography