Heart Healthy Diet with High Fiber Foods

Do you feel good about your health exam reports?

A heart healthy diet
can help you get better results.

Reach your health goals with foods high in fiber.

  • Low sodium for Lower Blood Pressure
  • Low fat for Lower LDL Cholesterol
  • Phytonutrients for antioxidant activity
  • Dense nutrition for vitamins and minerals

Research into cardiovascular health shows that high fiber foods in a low-fat, low-sodium eating plan may have enough nutrition to significantly reduce – maybe even reverse – your risk for coronary heart disease.

Heart Healthy Diet Plans

The D-A-S-H Plan

The original D-A-S-H (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) study by the National Institutes of Health was completed in 1997. Results proved that participants who followed the low-fat, high fiber regimen were able to significantly lower blood pressure.

Study of the DASH eating plan continues and researchers are finding success in lowering cholesterol and, when sodium is further restricted (to 1500 mg a day), a more distinct reduction blood pressure. In fact the DASH plan can be more effective than a prescribed low-sodium diet.

Mediterranean Plans

The popular Mediterranean approach to eating is based on selected traditional dietary habits common among family life along coastal regions of the Mediterranean sea.

Many variants of this eating plan exist. These plans suggest health benefits from olive oil, red wine, and nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and nuts.

The general concept of the Mediterranean plan is to consume food low in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber. However, be aware of the amount of sodium (salt) in a Mediterranean plan: olives, cheeses, anchovies, and salad dressings contain large amounts of salt, making this plan a dubiousheart healthy diet.

While the 10-year Hale Project in 2004 concluded an association between this plan and a lower cardiovascular death rate, other research (BMJ, June 2008) suggests this diet is better for weight loss and protection against diabetes than for heart health.

High Fiber Plans

Most high fiber eating plans rely on unprocessed, harvested foods that are naturally nutritious, making a good fit for a heart healthy diet. Buying highly processed boxed products becomes rare, while shopping in the produce or frozen food section becomes more frequent.

Foods high in fiber benefit digestion and gastrointestinal health and are typically low in fat and calories. A high fiber diet easily adapts to a plan for managing the symptoms of diabetes, or forweight losslower cholesterol, or blood pressure management, which all will benefit the heart. Adding high fiber foods to any diet makes a good eating plan.

Low-Sodium Diet

Sodium chloride (salt) is a mineral that the body needs, but we only need a little. Some scientists suggest 1500 mg a day (1.5 grams) may be required for physiological health. Advice to healthy adults is usually to limit salt to less than a teaspoon, about 2400 mg, a day. One meal can exceed that limit in the typical Western diet.

Salt has been found to affect blood pressure. Hence, a low-sodium eating plan targets lowering blood pressure to reduce stress on heart function.

Reducing salt in your diet can be tricky because salt is added to most processed foods, and a lot of our nourishment comes in the form of processed food products. Carefully read product labels to determine sodium content when you are shopping and search for low-sodium products.

Additional actions to take:

  • avoid overly salted snacks like chips, nuts, or crackers,
  • use herbs and spices for seasoning food in place of salt
  • revise recipes to cut out at least half the salt content
  • ask restaurants to prepare dishes with little or no salt

A Raw Food Plan

The goal of a Raw Food diet is to increase consumption of healthy foods.

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  • Foods that have not been heated or processed.
  • Foods from an clean environment using the fewest synthetic materials during production (growing, harvesting, distributing).

You can still enjoy foods that require cooking — Not every food you eat needs to be raw.

And not every food needs to be a vegetable or fruit. Some raw food plans include a percentage of prepared meats, fish, eggs, and dairy.

One benefit is that a raw food diet is low in sodium, but high in essential minerals (like potassium, magnesium). And raw foods are rich in vitamins and phytochemicals, and have less trans and saturated fat than cooked foods in the typical Western diet. These qualities make raw food very good for a heart healthy diet.

Advocates of a raw food diet believe healthy nutrition is lost when foods are heated over a certain temperature. Critics warn of food poisoning and nutritional deficiencies. A raw food program is controversial and could be dangerous without proper guidance and knowledge.