Fill Up on Fiber to Support Heart Health

Most people equate high-fiber diets with healthy digestive systems. But did you know that certain types of fiber play an important role in heart health?

Fiber is the part of a plant that the body can’t digest, meaning it’s not absorbed into the bloodstream. Of the two types of fiber—insoluble (does not dissolve in water) and soluble (dissolves in water)[2,4]—soluble deserves a big chunk of credit for helping the heart.[2,4] Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol and rich in fruits, vegetables, and grain products that contain some type of dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber, may reduce the risk of heart disease, a disease associated with many factors. [2,3,4,14] Viscous soluble fibers (a kind of soluble fiber found in oats and barley) can help lower total and LDL cholesterol. Although the mechanisms for how they do so are not fully known, they seem to benefit heart health by lowering these cholesterol levels.[6] Insoluble fiber has also been associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals.[12]  Because this type of fiber can make you feel full, you may eat fewer calories and less unhealthy foods.[1, 11, 12]
 

Many plant-based foods contain varying degrees of both types of dietary fiber, but you’ll find higher levels of fiber in foods like oats, ready-to-eat whole grain cereals,[12] peas, beans, carrots, and citrus fruits, to name a few. [4] One type of soluble fiber found in oats and barley, called beta-glucan, [5,6] has been shown to be particularly helpful in lowering levels of LDL cholesterol. [5,6] Insoluble fiber is abundant in wheat-based cereals, whole wheat breads, apples and cauliflower.[4, 12]

But helping to manage cholesterol isn’t the only way fiber benefits your heart health. You can also thank fiber’s filling characteristic for helping to protect your ticker. Eating a high-fiber food can help fill you up.[3, 4] Here’s where other fiber properties kick in: Some types of fiber bind with water in the stomach so you may feel full enough to say no to seconds.[3,4,5] And because it takes longer to move through the stomach, eating fiber also means you may be less likely to crave something higher in fat or cholesterol later on.[3,4,5,11]

The Daily Value for fiber for all Americans is 25 grams per day based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.[2] But estimates show that most adults are consuming only about half of that.[1,2] To help get your daily fiber fill, do some advance planning and aim to get a third of your needs in each meal, plus a snack or two. [1,2]

Get a Head Start on Fiber

Starting your day off with a high-fiber breakfast is an easy way to help you meet your daily fiber quota.  One serving of Kellogg’s® All-Bran® Original cereal provides 10g of fiber (40% of your recommended daily intake). [7] Another tasty choice that is an excellent source[8, 13] is Kellogg’s Raisin Bran®[per 8] cereal, which provides 28% of your recommended daily fiber (with 7g of total fiber). [8] To up the fiber content of your morning meal even more, top your cereal with fiber-full fruits, like strawberries (3g of fiber per 1 cup serving) and bananas (4g of fiber per 1 cup serving). [10]

Sources:

1. Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber

http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8355

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13—TLS

2. University of Florida IFAS Extension

Nutrition for Health and Fitness: Fiber and Your Diet:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/he697

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

3. American Heart Association: Diet and Lifestyle recommendations:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

4. Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a healthy diet

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber/NU00033

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

5. Jiezhong Chen, Kenneth Raymond

Beta-glucans in the treatment of diabetes and associated cardiovascular risks

Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008 December; 4(6): 1265–1272.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2663451/pdf/VHRM-4-1265.pdf

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

6. Thomas MS Wolever, Alison L Gibbs, Jennie Brand-Miller, Alison M Duncan, Valerie Hart, Benoît Lamarche, Susan M Tosh, Ruedi Duss

Bioactive oat β-glucan reduces LDL cholesterol in Caucasians and non-Caucasians

Nutr J. 2011; 10: 130. 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252259/?report=classic

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

7. Kellogg’s All Bran Original

http://www.all-bran.com/products/original-cereal.aspx

Accessed 8/8/2013

8. Kelloggs Raisin Bran Cereal

http://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/kelloggs-raisin-bran-cereal.html#prevpoint

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

9. USDA Database Strawberries

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2401?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=strawberries

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

10. USDA Database: Bananas

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2178?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=Abridged&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=bananas

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

11. Mayo Clinic: Breakfast: How does it help Weight Control?

 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN01119

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

12. American Heart Association: Whole Grains and Fiber

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Whole-Grains-and-Fiber_UCM_303249_Article.jsp

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

13. American Heart Association: Reading Food Nutrition Labels:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HeartSmartShopping/Reading-Food-Nutrition-Labels_UCM_300132_Article.jsp

SOURCE CHECKED AND ACCESSED 7/22/13--TLS

14. American Heart Association: What are my Risks for Getting Heart Disease?

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/What-Are-My-Chances-of-Getting-Heart-Disease-Infographic_UCM_443749_SubHomePage.jsp

by the Publishers of Prevention