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Increase fiber to decrease heart disease risk

December 23rd, 2013 | no comments

I am a big fan of fiber, and that’s a good thing because new research from the University of Leeds in the UK links greater fiber intake with lower risks of cardiovascular disease AND coronary heart disease. Researchers say that the risk lowers significantly with every additional 7 grams of fiber eaten each day.

How can YOU specifically protect your heart with more fiber? Start by meeting the recommendations— which are set at 25-35 grams per day! Sadly, most Americans don’t even come close to eating this amount (most only get about 10 grams of fiber…and that’s on a good day!)

When you break it down, 25-35 grams isn’t an unrealistic goal. Fiber is found in what I call “Earth Foods”—think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts. Are you eating some of these foods every day? If not, your fiber intake is likely well below the target.

The simplest way to pump up your fiber is by eating the following foods every day:

  • 3 cups of vegetables
  • 2 cups of fruit
  • 3 ounces of whole grains (oats, whole grain crackers and bread, brown rice, quinoa, barley, whole grain pasta, etc.); 1 serving = 1/2 cup cooked oats, pasta, quinoa, barley or rice; 1 slice of bread
  • 1 serving of beans and legumes (pinto, kidney, black, lentils, etc.); 1 serving = 1/2 cup cooked beans or lentils
  • 1-2 servings of nuts, seeds or nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter); 1 serving = 1/8 cup nuts or seeds; 1 tablespoon nut butter

This sounds like a lot of food doesn’t it? Not so! Take a look at how easy it is to make this happen:

16 ounces of
Breakfast Power Smoothie

Fiber: 14 grams
Counts as
: 2 cups of fruit + 2 cups of vegetables + 1 serving of nut butter (Note: Smoothie recipe makes 24 ounces- I drink 16 ounces for breakfast and 8 ounces for my mid-morning snack)

Mid-morning Snack:
8 ounces of Breakfast Power Smoothie

Szechuan Black Eyed Pea Salad (scroll to the bottom) served with 13 Blue Diamond Nut Thins Flax Seeds crackers and 1 sliced medium apple with skin

Fiber: 10 grams
Counts as: 1 serving beans + 1 ounce whole grain (Blue Diamond Flax Seeds crackers are a whole grain) + 1 cup fruit

Grilled salmon with 1 cup of steamed broccoli and Quinoa with Pistachios and Cranberries (scroll to bottom)

Fiber: 6 grams
Counts as: 1 cup of vegetables + 1 ounce whole grain (quinoa is a whole grain)

Evening snack:
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal drizzled with 1 teaspoon honey and a dash of cinnamon

Fiber: 2 grams
Counts as: 1 ounce whole grain

Daily Totals:
Fiber: 32 grams
Vegetables: 3 cups
Fruit: 3 cups
Whole grain: 3 ounces
Beans: 1 serving
Nuts/seeds: 1 serving

One word of caution—If you’re not used to eating this much fiber, it’s best to take it slow. Otherwise you’ll wind up being, well, a little socially unacceptable…if you know what I mean! A gut that hasn’t been properly introduced to fiber will “retaliate” with bloating and excess gas. Increase fiber by five gram-increments and you should be just fine. It’s also a good idea to increase the amount of water you drink to help move the fiber through your digestive tract. To find the fiber content of various foods, visit:

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