While working in cardiac rehabilitation I regularly reviewed patients diets. One very consistent issue was lack of eating enough dietary fiber. Many do not get adequate intake of vegetables, legumes and seeds. It wasn’t uncommon for a significant other to shake their head and report their loved one never eats vegetables, or if they do it is only one or two types, such as corn, and carrots. When discussing intakes of legumes, you would see many look at you with that what is she talking about face.
Beans, dried beans, chick peas, soy beans, lentils, kidney beans.
All of these foods are chocked full of fiber and protein, and are loaded with nutrition including potassium, iron, magnesium, B vitamins. So how does one incorporate eating more legumes in their diet? Start slowly, to avoid gas issues, unless your house is full of teenagers who think it is hilarious to see who can produce the loudest and stinkiest farts.
Add chickpeas, black beans or kidney beans to salads. Mix lentils into your rice dishes. Throw a handful into soups. When making foods such as sloppy joes, or tacos make with half the amount of meat and add in a cup or two of pinto, black, white or navy beans. Hummus is a great way to incorporate legumes. Use as a dip for vegetables, put on a Wasa or Rye crisp cracker. Use beans as a base for casseroles. Soups are a great way to add beans and legumes. If your beans are coming out of a can, rinse them first, this will reduce the sodium in them by almost half. Dried beans are very inexpensive, therefore try to get into a habit of one to two times per week soaking and cooking up a batch. A favorite snack may be roasted chickpeas. I like to season them up with olive oil, cumin and chili peppers, but also use a Tuscon blend seasoning, or garlic and onion powder/salt.Lentils sprout very easily. Try putting a in a jar, cover with water, rinse with new water daily and in three days you will have lentil sprouts to add to your salads. A side dish this week was roasted chickpeas, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Roast each, but not until mushy, keep the crunch, then toss in a bowl with seasoning of choice and fresh parsley. Even the kids will eat this dish.
|Nuts, seeds, and legumes
||3-4 servings per week for 1600 calorie diet
||4-5 servings per week for 2000 calorie diet
- 1/3 cup or 1 and 1/2 oz nuts
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp or 1/2 oz seeds
- 1/2 cup dry beans or peas
There is very good evidence that eating legumes lowers the risk for heart disease.
Research by a group looking at almost 10,000 men published in November 2001 showed that even one serving of lentils or chick peas a week lowers the risk of heart disease. And the best part is that the more you eat, the lower the risk. Eating legumes 4 times or more per week reduces the risk of heart disease by as much as 22%.
The risk of developing diabetes or heart disease is lower when legumes are regularly eaten instead of protein foods that are high in fat, such as meats and cheeses and other whole-milk dairy produces, and refined carbohydrates that are low in fiber, such as baked goods made with sugar and white flour.
Some people avoid beans due to the intestinal gas or bloating they may produce. But if you gradually increase the amount of beans you eat over several weeks, you can overcome that concern. Soak beans for 8 to 12 hours, replacing the water every few hours, and this also helps. Slow cook them, to help reduce the gas-forming compounds. Adding a little baking soda will also help, or you can buy enzyme products at the drug store that break down the gas-forming parts of the bean. Note: Since legumes have high amounts of fiber, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to avoid constipation as you increase them in your diet.
Oh yeah I mentioned vegetable earlier didn’t I?
Well as I tell my kids I don’t care if they aren’t your favorite food, they are a very important part of a healthy diet. Learn to like them. Branch out, try different vegetables. Fresh is best, followed by frozen, and lastly canned. We joined a CSA this year. This is a community sustained agriculture program where you own a share of the farm. You get a box full of vegetable every week. So when meal planning we start with what fresh vegetables are on hand? What needs to be used first and plan the meals around the vegetables. Now how many heart patients do this? Initially not many, but after suffering a heart problem many are open to trying it. Get on the web and look up recipes that include veggies you have on hand or are willing to use. Break out of the old cooking methods, try roasting, grilling, satisfying, steaming, fresh. Again they might not be your favorite part of the meal, but such an important part. About half your plate should be veggies. When you are in need of a snack, make sure it includes vegetables. Neufchatel cheese – mixed with your favorite spices, or veggies such as dried tomatoes and dried peppers, chives and garlic, together with fresh-cut veggies are a good snack to always have on hand. Take one day to prepare a boat load of fresh veggies every week so they are on hand, and an easy go to snack item.
Eat a variety of colors and types
|3-4 servings per day for 1600 calorie diet
||4-5 servings per day for 2000 calorie diet
- 1 cup raw leafy vegetables (about the size of a small fist)
- 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables
- 1/2 cup vegetable juice