February Is National Heart Month!
Many roads lead to a healthy heart, but one of the pathways several of our clients seem to forget is sufficient fiber intake. Fiber is a subject few people talk about because it isn’t glamorous, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious! Everyone needs to understand the importance of getting enough fiber from great sources, including whole grains, and how to incorporate them into their diet.
Fiber from whole grains is important when it comes to heart health for several reasons: It helps reduce cholesterol and other plaque materials in the blood stream, it lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure, and assists with weight loss.
Whole grains are among the more convenient foods to boost fiber intake because they can be enjoyed at any meal or snack. The presence of a variety of whole grains in our diet allows families to take advantage of both types of fiber—soluble and insoluble—since both appear in these foods.
Families can be encouraged to start with high-fiber whole grain cereals such as Weetabix, which provides slightly more than one-quarter (6 grams) of the Daily Value of fiber in just one serving. Barbara’s High-Fiber Medley (cranberry and original) each contain up 10 to 14 grams of fiber per serving, respectively. Topping those cereals with antioxidant-rich raspberries or blackberries offers an extra bit of fiber. Berries are also welcome on whole-grain pancakes or waffles any time of the day.
Choosing whole-grain breads, bagels, pastas, rolls, and tortillas over similar processed items helps increase fiber intake, as well as including amaranth, quinoa, barley, or other whole grains as side dishes. These grains and others are easy to prepare ahead of time and freeze well for future meals.
Families looking for heart-friendly snack ideas can enjoy air-popped popcorn, rye or whole-wheat crackers with hummus, or snacks made with Barbara’s whole-grain products.
Soups are another way to sneak extra whole grains into the diet, like barley, buckwheat, and millet. These grains go well with high-fiber beans, lentils, and split peas, as well as fresh vegetables to make a hearty meal during the cold winter months.
Every meal and snack is an opportunity to support heart health and boost fiber intake. The addition of delicious, whole grains to meals and snacks can help everyone achieve the goal of 30 to 35 grams of fiber daily.