February is National Heart Awareness Month:
Research has shown that some of the same fiber-rich foods that are good for your gastrointestinal health are also good for your heart.
Vegetables and Fruit
Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, are known for their wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. But did you know that they are also a great source of vitamin K!
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are full of important nutrients. Berries are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, which can protect against oxidative stress and inflammation that can contribute to the development of heart disease. Also rich in fiber, berries are an excellent way to help control blood sugar (glucose) levels, avoid constipation, reduce some symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, maintain a healthy body weight, and avert diverticular disease. So, make sure that you are including a serving of berries each day to help you reach the recommended daily fiber intake of 25-38g!
If you experience bowel irregularities, you may be relying on psyllium. Psyllium is a type of soluble dietary fiber found in foods like breakfast cereal and as a supplement (e.g. Metamucil). It is shown to improve stool frequency and consistency by absorbing water in the small intestine to help food pass through more easily. But did you know that psyllium also can lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels!
Avocados are an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats which have been linked to reduced cholesterol. But that’s not the only benefit!
Avocados are rich in potassium, a nutrient that’s essential to heart health. In fact, just one avocado can supply 975 milligrams of potassium or about 28% of the amount that you need in a day.
What you might not know is, despite its creamy texture, an avocado is high in fiber with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit. Eating foods with natural fiber, like avocados, can help prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer while also keeping your heart healthy!
Fatty Fish and Fish Oil
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which research indicates is great for your heart and digestion. Fish oil supplements are another option for getting your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 can help improve blood pressure and cholesterol while also improving your digestive tract.
Walnuts are a great source of fiber and micronutrients like magnesium, copper, and manganese.
Research shows that incorporating a few servings of walnuts in your diet can help protect against heart disease by helping to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Besides heart health, walnuts are also beneficial for digestive health by increasing the amount of good probiotic-type bacteria in the gut. Walnuts act as a pre-biotic (promoting the growth of beneficial microorganisms) to help grow and nourish the bacteria, further keeping the digestive system healthy.
Beans contain resistant starch. Resistant starch can improve heart health by decreasing blood levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.
Beans also contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, so they work double to keep your digestive system running smoothly. The first slows down digestion, which gives you that full feeling and the second helps prevent constipation.
Eating right and incorporating gut-healthy foods can not only can aid in your digestion but also keep your heart healthy. If you have questions on how to keep your digestive system healthy, visit a doctor at Hunterdon Gastroenterology Associates today and let us help make sure you are eating for optimal health! Give us a call at 908-483-4000.
Gi Society: https://badgut.org/information-centre/health-nutrition/diet-thats-good-for-the-gut-the-heart/
Healthline: Putting your heart first. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/heart-healthy-foods