High Fiber Helps the Heart: May 24, 2014

We are an overweight nation - much of it blamed on the kinds of food we consume. One solution may as simple as swapping our dietary choices.

“I’m always trying to get the patients I’m working with try to get more fiber,” says Lee Memorial Health System registered dietitian Jennifer Vargo.

To get more fiber in the diet, Vargo points to food swaps, including ones that increase fiber and satisfy hunger.

“Hummus would be a wonderful thing to bring in there. You’re working with beans so you’re going to have that wonderful source of fiber plus you’ve got some healthy fats in there too because those are often made with olive oils and those are heart healthy as well.”

New research is boosting the love affair between fiber and heart health. Not only do people who regularly eat fiber have a lower risk of heart disease, but studies now show that fiber benefit those who have already had a heart attack. Some fiber seems to show better results.

“The basics: your rice, your beans, your whole wheat pastas,” says registered dietitian Heidi Miller.

Miller is a weight management specialist with Lee Memorial Health System. Many of her clients already face medical challenges. She works to put them on a healthy path by adding exercise and along with fruits, vegetables and fiber.

“That reduces your risk for heart disease. A lot of people have been able to get off their medications, or at least reduce their medications for diabetes or blood pressure meds,” Miller says.

The FDA recommends between 20 and 30 grams of fiber a day- most Americans aren’t eating half that much.