It’s Heart Health Month! I talk a lot about hormones and blood sugar balance, so what does blood sugar balance have to do with heart health?
There are some indications that chronic high blood sugar may contribute to atherosclerosis, a condition that damages blood vessels and may lead to buildup of plaques that affect the ability of blood to flow through. This is why people with conditions like insulin resistance, diabetes, and PCOS may be at higher risk for developing heart disease.
Eating a variety of beneficial foods to improve blood sugar balance may in turn support heart health! So let’s turn our focus to two types of nutrients with that in mind: fiber and resistant starch.
This nutrient is important for regulating both heart and hormone health.
Eating a variety of whole plant foods, which are rich in soluble and insoluble fibers, may be helpful for:
- reducing total cholesterol by binding to it
- helping manage blood sugar by slowing release of glucose into the bloodstream and keeping you full longer
- helping eliminate the (excess) products of hormone metabolism to keep sex and stress hormones in better ratios
A great time to focus on fiber for your heart and hormone health is breakfast.
Foods like oats, berries, banana, and chia seeds are high in soluble fiber, which could help keep cholesterol in a better range – as well as a ripple effect of keeping you feeling full until lunchtime by slowing the release of sugars into the bloodstream, easing the insulin impact, and setting you up for fewer cravings later in the day as well.
Try putting these foods together for overnight oats, chia pudding, or right into a smoothie for breakfast!
Isn’t starch bad? (Real quick, no, it’s not.)
Resistant starch gets its name because, a lot like fiber, it *resists* digestion. It occurs naturally but also builds up in certain starchy foods, such as potatoes, after they’ve been cooked AND cooled.
Starches add a filling heft to foods like root vegetables, squashes, grains, and pulses. Resistant starches also aid satiety and may act as a prebiotic (source of food) for our gut microbes as it makes its way through our intestines, fermenting as it goes.
If you’ve had “new vegan gas” switching to WFPB, this is likely a contributor!
But beyond that, resistant starch shows benefits for helping reduce cravings, and improving blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity! And as mentioned above, that could be great news for your blood vessels.
So what foods contain resistant starch? The best sources include: potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, rice, lentils and other legumes, and green bananas.
I love adding cold leftover cooked rice or potatoes to my winter buddha bowls! And overnight oats…
Grab this Blueberry Hemp Overnight Oats recipe to make this weekend!