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Written by Carole Chang, MSc, RD, Public Health Dietitian

What’s fibre got to do with my heart?

14/02/2017 9:37:46 AM | 0 comments |
You may have heard that fibre can help keep you regular and even prevent certain cancers, but did you know that fibre can also keep your heart healthy? Fibre helps to keep your good and bad cholesterols at healthy levels which can lower your risk of heart disease.

The scoop on fibre

There are two main types of fibre. Soluble fibre is “heart friendly” and can help lower blood cholesterol. Soluble fibre is found in fruits (e.g. apples and oranges), vegetables (e.g. carrots and eggplant), oat bran, oatmeal, barley, psyllium and legumes (e.g. chick peas, kidney beans and lentils). Soluble fibre can act as a sponge to soak up cholesterol before it can be absorbed into the blood, passing it out of the body as waste. Without these sponges, cholesterol can build up and block the blood flow, resulting in a stroke or heart attack. The second type of fibre, insoluble fibre, is “bowel friendly" – it helps to keep us regular. This type of fibre is found in wheat bran, whole grain bread, corn bran, flax seeds, as well as vegetables and fruit.

Get your fibre from food

It is important to get your daily quotient of 25 to 38 grams of fibre from food sources. High fibre foods can supply more fibre, vitamins and minerals than fibre pills or powders. In fact, too much fibre from pills and powders can block some minerals from getting to your body. Here are some tips on how to increase your fibre intake from food sources:
 

Vegetables and fruit 

  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruit at every meal.
  • Leave the skin on the vegetables and fruit when possible (e.g. potatoes, apples). 
  • Choose whole vegetables and fruit more often than juice. 
  • Choose high fibre vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, asparagus, canned pumpkin and broccoli. 
  • Choose high fibre fruits such as berries, oranges, apples, kiwi, prunes and pears. 

Grain products

  • Breakfast cereals with oats can help lower cholesterol. Start your day with a high fibre cereal that packs four grams of fibre in every serving. 
  • Choose whole grain breads that contain at least two grams of fibre in every slice. 
  • Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with brown rice and whole-grain products. 
  • Read nutrition labels. Choose products made with whole grain flour. Descriptions such as “multigrain,” “stone-ground” or “whole wheat” do not necessarily mean that the product is whole grain. 

Plant proteins

  • Choose high fibre plant protein such as black beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, dried peas and lentils. 
  • Boost the fibre power of your chili with chickpeas or kidney beans. 
  • Add lentils or cooked beans to soups, casseroles, or salads.
  • Try hummus or baked beans in a can as a quick meal. 

Keep your cholesterol in check

Enjoy a variety of foods high in fibre. Other ways to keep your cholesterol level in check include eating foods lower in saturated and trans fats and increasing your physical activity. Talk to your health care provider about getting your blood cholesterol tested if you are a man over the age of 40 or a woman over the age of 50. 
 
Learn more heart healthy eating tips or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to speak directly to a registered dietitian.
 

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