Heart attack and other cardiac issues loom as a scary, fatal monster to anybody who is the least bit concerned about living a healthy life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 4 seconds, somebody in the US suffers from a heart attack. Nearly 1 in every 4 deaths are due to heart disease. Wouldn’t it great if eating fiber-rich foods is the answer to these alarming statistics?
Researchers have found that eating more fiber increases the lifespan of those with a history of heart attacks. But is there enough evidence to this?
Fiber Intake And Heart Attack
Harvard Medical School conducted a study on multiple patients with a history of a heart attack. The researchers found that the participants who consumed a high-fiber diet were far more likely to survive longer than their counterparts who didn’t eat as much fiber.1 But, there’s a glitch here.
This particular study only showed a relationship between high-fiber diets and reduction in mortality. It did not specify that the fiber itself is the cause of reduced mortality. In other words, if we consider beans to be high in fiber and beans reduce mortality after a heart attack, we can say that beans reduce mortality, not the high fiber content. So, a randomised trial is needed to establish a clear connection.2
The study’s main focus was on fiber and mortality rates. However, it also indicated that the high-fiber group had a 13% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases, during the study period. This just adds to the many health benefits of fiber intake.
How Much Fiber Should You Eat?
This can be tricky for those of you trying to regulate your diet. The average person in the US gets 15 gm of fiber each day, even though the daily recommendation is 20 to 30 gm.3 Only 5% of Americans meet this intake.4 So, here’s a simple guide to start you off.
Processed foods are not a very good source of fiber as most of the good stuff it is removed in the making. Here are a few foods you can go for instead:
- Whole grains
- Fresh fruits and veggies, along with their peel
- Oats, which have a higher proportion of soluble fiber than other grains
Eating more of soluble fiber reduces the levels of free or LDL cholesterol in the body. This, in turn, reduces the risk of many cardiovascular illnesses.5 You can also go for fiber supplements but getting the goodness from fresh foods is much more beneficial.
Change Your Lifestyle For A Healthy Heart
A major disorder such as a heart attack calls for a re-evaluation of the choices you make. It is worth spending some time in jotting down all of your everyday habits, conscious or otherwise, and decide which ones are harming you.6
1. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise can be the best friend your health can have. Consult your doctor and figure out an exercise regimen that suits your body. This can even speed up the recovery process after a heart attack. Also, maintain a steady, healthy weight to prevent any further attacks.
2. Follow A Healthy Diet
Apart from eating fiber-rich foods, include more of omega-3 fats in your diet. Also, eat small meals but more often. Eat less salt to keep cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease, under control.
3. Cut Out The Bad Habits
Quit unhealthy habits like smoking and alcoholism. You’re harming your body even if you’re just drinking one pint a day. You might be an addict without even realizing it. So lay off the tempting habits before it does you more harm.
4. Take Care Of Yourself
The key to having a relaxed mind every day is getting good sleep. So, get good-quality sleep for adequate hours. Also, take up hobbies that are relaxing, distracting, and can keep you stress-free.
In conclusion, while we await more research into the benefits of fiber for heart health, know that fiber only does you good. There is no harm, but more benefits, in including fiber in your diet. Whole foods will help you maintain a healthy heart and circulatory system.
|↑1||Li, Shanshan, Alan Flint, Jennifer K. Pai, John P. Forman, Frank B. Hu, Walter C. Willett, Kathryn M. Rexrode, Kenneth J. Mukamal, and Eric B. Rimm. “Dietary fiber intake and mortality among survivors of myocardial infarction: prospective cohort study.” Bmj 348 (2014): g2659.|
|↑2||Heart attack survivors ‘gain from high-fibre diet’. NHS Choices.|
|↑3||Fiber. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.|
|↑4||Lambeau, Kellen V., and Johnson W. McRorie. “Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits: How to recognize and recommend an effective fiber therapy.” Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners 29, no. 4 (2017): 216-223.|
|↑5||Whole Grains and Fiber. American Heart Association.|
|↑6||Keep your heart healthy. Heart Foundation Australia.|