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This Heart Healthy Food Habit Lowers Cholesterol

Many heart disease risk factors can be controlled by making modest changes in your lifestyle habits. Diet is one the most powerful treatments available to patients with high serum cholesterol, and can actually reduce the risk of heart disease. Here is where habit can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

Evidence from epidemiologic studies shows a strong correlation between consistent high dietary fiber intake and a decrease in your risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
These studies also suggest that high dietary fiber intake may decrease your risk of stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and colon cancer.

The American Heart Association recommends an intake of 20 to 30 grams of dietary fiber per day, and the National Cancer Institute recommends 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber per day; most Americans are in the habit of consuming less than 11 grams of fiber per day.

Fiber is the structural component of the parts of the cell wall of plants. It includes all the parts of plant foods your body cannot digest or absorb. Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, is found in fruits and vegetables, dried peas and beans, and some cereals such as oatmeal. Soluble fiber helps prevent cholesterol build up in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of atherosclerosis and heart disease. It does reduce cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber helps to move material through the colon more quickly and helps decrease the risk of colon cancer.

Insoluble fiber, which absorbs water, is found in whole grain products that absorb water, such as whole wheat bread. Insoluble fiber provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move quickly through the digestive system. It promotes elimination by providing bulk. 

Insoluble fiber can also satisfy the appetite by making us feel full. Insoluble fiber does not decrease cholesterol levels. Because these two types of dietary fiber are present in varying amounts in most fruits and vegetables and affect the body in different ways, you should develop the habit of eating a wide variety of plant foods.
The habit of eating fiber can also help to control the appetite by giving a satiated feeling with fewer calories. This feel full aspect can support weight management along with a healthy heart diet. The three main challenges to achieving a healthy weight are overeating, new fat formation, and slow metabolism. Caloric intake minus calories expended equals calories stored. If the calories taken in are more than the calories burned there is weight gain, and if the calories burned exceeds the calories taken in there is weight loss.

Controlling weight with fiber can be a real solution to a real problem. Studies have shown that if two groups of people eat the same number of calories and similar foods, but one group’s diet is high in fiber and the other low in fiber- the group eating the high-fiber foods will lose more weight than the group consuming little fiber.

To experience fiber’s heart healthy food benefits you need to embrace the daily habit of adequate water intake. Although the Institute of Medicine does not specify how much water to drink per day, it does make general daily fluid intake recommendations. These guidelines are about 11 cups a day for women and about 15 cups a day for men. Keep in mind that 1 cup equals 8 fluid ounces. These guidelines are for total daily fluid intake from all food and beverages.

The heart of this cholesterol lowering habit is just eat more fiber and drink more water daily.
Commit to this simple habit that will make a difference for life, and your heart will thank you.

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