We are now learning that some sources of fiber may be better than others, especially when it comes to reducing inflammation naturally and lowering the risk of heart disease. A new study by researchers at Columbia University followed the lives of 4,125 people for 26 years, tracking their diet and testing their blood. It revealed that eating more fiber helped lower their risk of cardiovascular disease.

What’s particularly interesting about this study is that the researchers evaluated specific sources of fiber. Fiber can come from fruit, veggies, legumes (dried peas, beans, and lentils), grains, seeds, and nuts—virtually any plant food. However, the researchers found that cereal fiber from whole grains was consistently linked to a lower risk of heart disease andless inflammation—something they didn’t find with the fiber from fruit and veggies. While more research is needed, it adds to growing evidence that there is something very special about the cereal fiber occurring in whole grains.

why is cereal fiber so good?

Many of the cereal fibers and antioxidant compounds found in grains are unique and often found in higher amounts than in any other plant-based foods.

In the gut, they feed bacteria and deliver long-lasting antioxidant protection where it’s needed most, including to areas of the colon that are prone to cancerous changes. Fiber, including cereal fiber, also helps the gut to produce short-chain fatty acids, which can help reduce the risk of inflammation, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

the central message

Whole grains can complement the goodness you get from fruit, veggies, and other plant foods. Eating two to three servings of whole-grain foods each day can reduce your risk of developing chronic disease by 20–30 percent. So look for ways to eat more whole-grain foods, such as whole-grain breakfast cereals, rice, and delicious grainy bread.

Here are 10 ways to get more whole-grain fiber into your diet:

  • Swap white bread for brown, grainy loaves.
  • Choose whole-grain and high-fiber breakfast cereals.
  • Swap mashed potatoes for a side of quinoa or brown rice.
  • Add some pearl barley to hearty winter soups.
  • Try buckwheat pancakes for a weekend breakfast.
  • Enjoy whole-grain crackers with peanut butter or avocado.
  • Swap white pasta or rice for whole-grain pasta and brown rice.
  • Add grains, such as quinoa or buckwheat, to a winter salad.
  • Add whole-grain cereal, such as oats, to your smoothies.
  • Experiment with your favorite baking recipes—replace half the white flour with whole-grain flour.

Tip: Increase your fiber intake slowly, as a sudden increase in fiber may lead to abdominal discomfort associated with bloating. Make switches to your diet gradually, and remember to drink plenty of water!

Article courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. For more information and heart-healthy recipes, visit sanitarium.com.au.

Health Matters: Whole Grains for Heart Health

by Sanitarium Health Food Company
  
From the January 2023 Signs