By Ruvimbo Jeche
Legumes, which include various beans, peas, and lentils, are mainstays of a heart-healthy diet. They provide low-fat, plant-based protein and fiber along with a wide array of heart-healthy nutrients. Legumes are abundant in soluble fiber, which has been shown to help reduce blood levels of cholesterol.
Choosing legumes over animal protein is a win-win situation in terms of heart disease prevention. By choosing plant protein, you get much more bang for your buck. You are getting amino acids, fiber, minerals, iron, and antioxidants, and you are getting a food with bonus nutrients that boost your body’s antioxidant levels all this for just pennies on the dollar. With animal protein, you’re getting the excess baggage of saturated fat and cholesterol and more calories.
Choose beans instead of meat, fish, and poultry because beans is not only inexpensive but offers a healthful source of plant-based protein, and are high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. And besides, beans are easy to prepare. They are as a matter of fact a very heart-healthy and economical way for Zimbabweans to change their diet in a positive way.
Whole Grains are also a good source of dietary fiber, along with nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, vitamin E, polyphenols, magnesium, and selenium. Wheat in particular provides significant cardiovascular benefits due to their high content of the soluble fiber (beta-glucan), which is believed to reduce cholesterol. Wheat is not only good for their beta-glucan content but also for a unique antioxidant, which may lower heart disease risk by reducing cholesterol. It is always encouraged to switch out refined white grains for whole grains whenever possible. Any time you have white rice, try brown rice instead. Or instead of white pasta, have whole grain pasta whenever possible—so you are not making a major change, you are simply switching out a less healthful item for a heart-healthy whole grain option.