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Why Cardiologists Say That Every Heart-Healthy Breakfast Should Include the ‘Big 2’

 Why Cardiologists Say That Every Heart-Healthy Breakfast Should Include the ‘Big 2’ Nutrients


Fiber is connected to a multitude of possible benefits, including gut health, low cholesterol, and stable blood sugars, as you probably already know. The same can be said for protein, the macronutrient responsible for muscle growth, tissue repair, and important biological activities.

So, if breakfast is "the most important meal of the day," it's only natural that it should include both. According to cardiologist Leonard Pianko, MD, fiber is good for your digestive system, as well as helping you feel full after breakfast, lowering your "bad" LDL cholesterol, and is contained in many plant-based breakfast meals rich in vitamins and minerals that are good for your heart. "Fiber can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for heart disease," explains Dr. Pianko. A population-based study conducted in 2016 looked at over 1,600 persons over the age of 49 and discovered that those who consumed the most fiber had a nearly 80% higher probability of living a long life.

Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, dementia, depression, and functional impairment were all less common in people who ate a fiber-rich diet than their counterparts.

Beans, whole grains, eggs, almonds, and fish are all good sources of heart-healthy protein. "In addition to your cardiovascular health, protein in your breakfast can improve your muscle and brain health." Fatty fish, such as smoked salmon, are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a longer life span. Because they're abundant in antioxidants and phytonutrients, nuts, seeds, and legumes have all been related to lowering cholesterol. Regularly eating one of these plant-based protein sources can also help to reduce blood pressure, which is another plus for cardiovascular health.

How much of these heart-healthy breakfast ingredients should we eat (and the dish that a cardiologist suggests):

While Dr. Pianko emphasizes the importance of getting fiber and protein at breakfast, bear in mind that you won't be able to meet all of your needs first thing in the morning. Instead, he suggests spreading your protein and fiber intake throughout the day to keep your brain, muscles, and heart fueled all day. "We tend to eat our biggest meal at dinner," says cardiologist Patrick Fratellone, MD. "This is neither helpful for our blood sugar nor our sleep." "However, getting enough protein and fiber is simple if we plan our meals, especially morning."

So, how much of each of these heart-healthy breakfast components should you consume to keep your heart in good shape? "The ideal fiber intake varies by gender, with men requiring more fiber than women." "As we become older, we need more fiber because our metabolism slows down," adds Dr. Pianko. The average adult needs between 21 and 38 grams of fiber per day, but most people only get about 15 grams. As a result, Americans of all ages could benefit from increasing their fiber intake, and breakfast is a great place to start.

"The ideal protein intake is determined by a person's weight, degree of exercise, and overall health. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, which equates to 56 grams per day for a sedentary man and 46 grams every day for a woman who is sedentary." Use this simple protein calculator to figure out how much protein you need. 

So, at the breakfast table, what should you order? Greek yogurt and oats are both high in protein, and adding berries adds fiber to the mix. Dr. Pianko recommends supplementing the powerful pair with nuts (almonds or walnuts) to boost the protein and fiber content even further. He also suggests combining a fiber-rich cereal with milk, fruit, and almonds for breakfast.

So, at the breakfast table, what should you order? Greek yogurt and oats are both high in protein, and adding berries adds fiber to the mix. Dr. Pianko recommends supplementing the powerful pair with nuts (almonds or walnuts) to boost the protein and fiber content even further. He also suggests combining a fiber-rich cereal with milk, fruit, and almonds for breakfast. Finally, he recommends scrambled eggs or an omelet with fiber-rich veggies (such as spinach, broccoli, or artichokes) and healthy fat sources like avocado, along with a whole-grain piece of bread.

Now that we've discussed what you should consume, Dr. Pianko emphasizes the need of avoiding foods heavy in salt, sugar, and saturated fats (such as doughnuts, sugary cereals, and packaged pastries) to reduce your risk of heart disease.

read more: 5 dinners to weight 

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