Food for the Heart
Question: What is better for your heart than a box of chocolates this Valentine's Day?
Answer: Soluble Fibre
One half of the amazing, disease-fighting duo that makes up dietary fibre, soluble fibre can play a key role in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Health experts divide fibre into two major categories: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre (often called roughage) is a bulking agent that helps the digestive system run efficiently (i.e. food in...waste out). Soluble fibre plays a much more important role in heart health as well as general well-being. Moving through the digestive system, soluble fibre dissolves in water and forms a gel.
This gel has a multitude of health benefits:
- It slows digestion and allows more essential nutrients to be absorbed by the body.
- It provides satiety and helps to maintain a healthy body weight.
- It controls blood sugar levels which can help to manage diabetes (a risk factor for heart disease).
- It helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels, which can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Legumes are a food rich in soluble fibre and they are easily incorporated into your diet. Here are a few easy and convenient ideas:
- Add lentils, chick peas or other beans to homemade or canned sauces, soups or stews.
- Pack a delicious grain and legume salad like Summer Fresh 7 Grain or Gourmet Bean Salad in your lunch. (These salads also provide a complete protein source, making them great for vegetarians.)
- Always keep a stock of delicious Summer Fresh Hummus products on hand to use as a vegetable dip or to replace butter or mayonnaise as a spread. (Note: Studies on diets high in chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, have shown a significant reduction of serum cholesterol levels compared to a diet featuring wheat-based fibre sources.)
- Purée beans and use to replace some of the fat ingredients (oil or butter) in cookies, muffins or brownies.
Effects of a Controlled Diet Supplemented with Chickpeas on Serum Lipids, Glucose Tolerance, Satiety and Bowel Function, Pittaway et al, Journal of the American College of Nutrition (2007)]