February is the month of love! It is also coincidentally American Heart Month — reminding us as we embark on the new year that nothing is more important than thinking about our life choices and how those choices impact our health and well-being.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number 1 killer of men and women in the United States — a staggering and heart-wrenching statistic. But the good news is there are many preventative steps you can take to decrease your risk for CVD by making simply changes in your daily routine.
Diet is a huge factor in preventing CVD. Limiting your saturated fats and cholesterol will reduce plaque build up and increase your heart health. One of the best foods for this is oatmeal! Whole-grains are essential to your diet because of their fiber and rich nutrient content. Oatmeal is packed with soluble fiber, which is linked to lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, regulating blood sugar and lowering your risk of heart disease.
Having fiber in your diet can also protect against obesity, which is directly correlated to increased risk for CVD. Fiber helps to lower your insulin levels, preventing a blood sugar spike post-meal. Why is this important? When you have high insulin levels for long periods of time your body stores the extra energy as fat increasing your chances for obesity. Foods with low glycemic loads that won’t cause blood sugar spikes include veggies, berries, nuts and seeds, beans, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, rye and oatmeal — our favorite!
With up to 5 grams a fiber in 1/3 cup of purely elizabeth oatmeal, this amounts to 20% of your recommend daily intake. Women need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams per day, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Our oatmeal is also free of added sugar — a big plus when keeping your GI in check as sugar is the highest GI carbohydrate. If we’re looking to sweeten our oats up we use coconut sugar, a low-glycemic sweetener that won’t cause the dreaded insulin spike. Another favorite oatmeal topping of ours is purely elizabeth granola + fruit — combined it can add up to around 10 grams of fiber (almost half of your recommend daily intake)!
Your food choices shouldn’t be boring, and neither should caring about your health! We want healthy hearts this year, so make small goals to change your lifestyle on your path to prevention.