Beans, greens and grains – a few of your heart’s favorite things
These fiber powerhouses are just what we need to reach our daily fiber goals. The current recommendations are a minimum of 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day, yet the average American is barely consuming 15 grams. On average, one cup of cooked beans provides between 12 to 16 grams of fiber. Translation: half of your daily needs of fiber are in just one cup of beans!
The Heart of the Matter: Fiber plays a crucial role in cholesterol management and inflammation reduction – two contributing factors to the initial development of heart disease. Not to mention, beans are a great source of protein that is low-fat and cholesterol-free.
We've all heard the buzz around kale in the last few years, but don't forget all the other great options out there. We're talking about collards, turnips, beets and mustard greens, bok choy, arugula, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, and even parsley.
The Heart of the Matter: Greens help the body produce nitric oxide – an antioxidant compound that naturally relaxes arteries and keeps them flexible, preventing buildup of tough plaque. This not only helps fresh blood reach all parts of the body, but also potentially lowers both blood pressure and cholesterol.
Whole grains and ancient grains are the perfect packages of ultimate nutrition. Think quinoa, black or wild rice, barley, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, spelt, bulgur, farro and more. These grains have been a staple in human diets for centuries for very good reason.
The Heart of the Matter: Not only are whole grains loaded with fiber and antioxidants, they are great sources of many minerals, including potassium and magnesium. Potassium can help counterbalance the effects of sodium. We have sodium-potassium channels in our hearts, so maintaining a proper balance of minerals means better blood pressure. Magnesium is involved in more than 300 reactions in the body, and 70-80 percent of the population isn't getting enough. It helps keep your heart rhythm normal, improves insulin sensitivity, decreases osteoporosis risk, and maintains both muscle and immune system function! Good news: most grains provide anywhere from 15-30 percent of the bodies' magnesium needs in a mere ½ cup serving.
Spartanburg Regional's Joe R. Utley Heart Resource Center offers individual and group education on heart disease prevention and management. Events that include cooking classes and nutrition tips are offered throughout the year to help you improve your overall wellness.