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Dietary Fiber as a Mechanism in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Seldom is dietary fiber our first thought, as a mechanism in fighting cardiovascular disease, though perhaps it should be. While our fiber intake is not the only thing necessary to promote heart health, it is a very important part of it.

High fiber and low-fat-sugar-salt diets, coupled with exercise and the cessation of smoking, are the keys to dramatically lowering the risk of a stroke or heart attack: the leading killer, worldwide of both men and women.

1.) Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease and heart disease refer to diseases of the heart or arteries. Not all of them will respond to dietary changes, however, coronary artery disease and peripheral arterial diseases will. These are the heart diseases that are killing us, even faster than cancer.

Healthy arteries are flexible and elastic. However, as we age and consume unhealthy diets, lead sedentary lives and take up smoking, the artery walls become thick and restrict the flow of blood. This is called hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis and we can prevent it.

2.) How Fiber Helps Your Heart

*High fiber foods help lower blood pressure because they are often lower in fat and calories. Too much fat in your diet will cause high blood cholesterol. Cholesterol creates a plaque build-up in the arteries, which causes restricted blood flow. This in turn causes the heart to work harder and raises the blood pressure.

*Eating a diet high in fiber reduces obesity, which eventually leads to health problems, such as heart disease. Most high fiber foods fill you up faster and take longer to digest. This helps you cut down on how often and how much you eat, because you feel fuller.

*Diabetics know that eating fiber helps keep the blood glucose levels in check. It accomplishes this by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which means the body is better able to take up glucose from the bloodstream. This in turn will keep your weight down and help prevent obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, all of which lead to cardiovascular disease.

3.) Dietary Fiber As A Mechanism In Fighting Cardiovascular Disease

*Adults need between 25-35 grams of fiber per day; making sure you get this amount isn’t hard to accomplish. What your Mom told you, what your doctor told you and what dietitians have been telling us for years is right: You are what you eat!

*Adding dried beans in place of meat once or twice a week will increase your fiber intake. So will snacking on nuts, fruits and vegetables, instead of candy and carbonated beverages. Replacing processed foods with whole grain breads, rice and pasta will add a lot of fiber and help you lose weight.

*Try to eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables every day and eat them raw, steamed or boiled, instead of fried. Eliminate solid fats such as shortening and butter. Switch to low-fat margarine spreads and vegetable, olive or canola oil.

Read labels and learn how much fiber is in the foods you love. Also, avoid trans fats and high sodium content. Just a few changes here and there will help you use dietary fiber as a mechanism in cardiovascular disease prevention. Not only will this lead to a longer life, it will give you a higher quality life.