February is American Heart Month, reminding us that cardiovascular disease, including stroke, is still the No. 1 cause of deaths in the United States. One in three Americans has some form of heart disease currently, which is projected to reach nearly one out of two in the next 20 years, according to the American Heart Association.
The situation does not have to continue as it is now. Although a leading killer, cardiovascular disease is largely preventable. Most cases are attributed to diet and lifestyle, with more than half attributed solely to diet. Simple changes, like eating foods that are higher in fiber, especially soluble fiber, and lower in saturated fats can reduce your risk. Soluble fiber – different than insoluble because it becomes gel-like when mixed with water – is found in everyday foods like oats, beans, fruits and vegetables.
A diet higher in soluble fiber helps guard cardiovascular health mainly because it helps maintain lower levels of LDL cholesterol – the “bad” cholesterol that can build up in the arterial walls. One of the ways soluble fiber does so is by reducing the amount of bile acids reabsorbed in the intestines, keeping excess cholesterol out of the bloodstream.
Lower LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk are reason enough to stock up on fibrous foods, but the indigestible carbohydrate is also shown to be beneficial for other reasons:
- Keeping you feeling fuller and assisting with losing weight
- Maintaining a healthy blood pressure
- Stabilizing blood sugar by prolonging stomach emptying and slowing the rate that sugar is absorbed
- Softening stool consistency
- Supporting a healthy gut flora and immune health
- Maintaining longer telomeres, which are a biomarker of biological aging
- Improving gastrointestinal health
- Reducing the risk of certain forms of cancer
Americans Getting Barely Half of Recommended Fiber Intake
All the benefits listed above make it hard to imagine why people are still not getting the 32 grams of fiber recommended daily by the National Fiber Council. The council reports that the average American “barely consumes half of the recommended amount of fiber needed per day” and shares these findings from a survey conducted in 2005:
- Only slightly more than half of respondents correctly identified fiber as being able to lower blood cholesterol, prevent heart disease and manage weight
- 60 percent of respondents never talk with their health care provider about fiber
- One in five has no idea how much fiber they consume on a daily basis
- Only 22 percent know the daily recommended amount of fiber
One other main reason why Americans receive so few grams of dietary fiber is because it is excluded from many processed foods. Most of today’s mass-produced baked products, pasta and cereals have fiber removed in the quest for greater softness, appeal, and longer shelf life. Unfortunately, these developments have come at a cost to people’s health.
SlimCakes for Soluble Fiber
With Isagenix Oatmeal-Berry SlimCakes, getting enough soluble fiber is made easier without sacrificing flavor. These low-fat, delicious treats are designed principally with health of the consumer in mind. They offer 5 grams of fiber each (at least 3 grams of soluble fiber), are less than 100 calories each, and even qualify to bear a Food and Drug Administration-supported four health claims on their labels:
- Excellent source of fiber
- Heart healthy
- Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Low-fat diets rich in fiber-containing grain products, fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, a disease associated with many factors.
SlimCakes are made by combining wholesome ingredients, such as unbleached flour, rolled oats, oat bran, and ground flax seed, and are naturally sweetened with evaporated cane juice, cranberries and blueberries. They go through little processing and their fiber content is preserved for guilt-free snacking pleasure. They make for a delicious snack to curb mid-day cravings and promote healthy weight loss when eaten in place of high-fat, high-calorie junk foods. And, rich in soluble fiber, the treats can help keep your heart beating for a long time.
Anderson JW, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews 2009; 67(4): 188-205.
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements, 2006.
National Fiber Council. “About Fiber,” 2008. Available at: http://www.nationalfibercouncil.org/af_are.shtml.
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. “Heart Disease.” 2011. Available at: http://www.CDC.gov