We are motivated to take actions that we believe will benefit us…

I eat a plant-based diet for many reasons, but my biggest motivation is my health. After suffering a wake-up-call in the form of a heart attack I got very serious overnight about doing everything within my power to recover, get healthy, and avoid future heart problems.

The nagging question for me is how much effort is enough? Cardiovascular disease is called the silent killer for a reason.  As the result of our daily personal food choices and actions our arteries gradually become blocked until one day they pass the tipping point, and BAM! You have a heart attack.

There is a lot of literature describing this and the causes, with a main reason identified as the Standard American Diet (SAD). One of the scary things I’ve learned is that kids who eat the SAD diet show evidence of our number one killer, heart disease before they even reach their teens.

I want to know how what actions and how much effort I need to take to insure I’m doing everything I can to reverse my heart disease and gain the greatest benefits from the actions I’m taking. The challenge is that when I eat a healthy meal, I can’t actually see an immediate benefit beyond my commitment to eating the right foods.

However, after eating a plant-based fat-free diet for a few weeks I can actually see a benefit both in the mirror and on the scale to confirm a benefit from my actions. But what I couldn’t see was what was happening inside my arteries, because after all that was the cause of the heart attack and that was the key marker of future health and/or risks.

There are a growing number of recognized leaders promoting the health benefits of plant-based eating. I particularly like to follow Michael Greger, MD FACLM founder of Nutritionfacts.org and author of the New York Times Best Seller How Not to Die.  Dr. Greger is a thought leader whom I respect,  I respect his no-nonsense videos and articles that are written about  published evidence-based studies.   Last year I saw him speak at the Pioneers in Integrative Medicine forum sponsored by UC Davis Integrative Medicine.  Recently, an article by Dr. Greger titled Can Oatmeal Reverse Heart Disease which discusses the heart protective benefits of dietary fiber resonated with me.

I was struck by Dr. Greger’s comment that an increase of just 3 fiber grams each day would result in significant health benefits and reductions in healthcare costs.  This led me back to my question of how much is enough? If 3 grams helps, would 6 grams be better, what about 10 grams or 100 grams? How much fiber is enough?

Fortunately, Dr. Greger answered my question. He went on to explain that the average person consumes about 15 grams of fiber per day on the SAD. The proper amount to gain maximum health and heart protective benefits is 30 grams per day, or twice the fiber an average person consumes. The article explains that because fiber is only found in plants its much more likely for a person eating plant-based to achieve the 30 grams of daily fiber than a person eating the standard American diet since meat, dairy and eggs don’t have any fiber. The article stated that consuming 30 grams of fiber daily will actually decrease the amount of blockage in arteries over time reversing heart disease.

Ah ha! I had my answer – 30 grams. So I immediately wondered how much I was eating and reconstructed everything I consumed that day and discovered I had eaten 29 grams of fiber. Wow – That felt pretty good. Now the challenge is, do I eat 30 grams of fiber every day? I don’t know, but I have my goal to work towards. Now it feels like a game. I can also feel good that evidence based research has found if I do this consistently, I will protect my heart, be healthy and rest easy knowing I am getting the benefits I want even though I cannot see them.

Game on! To begin playing my game and insure I eat enough fiber grams each day, I began re-reading labels on the food I eat. I discovered that one of my favorite meals contains 35 grams of fiber in a single meal. Below are the instructions for this fast & easy, budget-friendly and kid-friendly favorite of mine that will also give you 35 grams of fiber and help you on the path to improved health, and based on the evidence, taking a step to reversing heart disease.

The recipe for heart-healthy, fast, budget-friendly Super Burritos is here. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4  Ole Xtreme Wellness High Fiber tortillas 44g of fiber (Bel-air/Raleys or Walmart.com)

1  16 oz Can Rosarita No Fat Refried Beans 24 g of fiber

1  10 oz package of frozen whole grain brown rice1 6 g of fiber

Raley’s fresh Pico de Gallo (in the refrigerated produce department)

Toppings: Salsa, jalapenos, sliced green onions, Cholula sauce if desired

Makes about 4 Super Burritos — each burrito contains 17 grams of fiber

1We like to keep a box of pre-cooked brown rice in the freezer for those times we get home late, are hungry and don’t want to wait for rice to cook. We find this rice at Bel-Air or Trader Joe’s. You could also cook extra rice and freeze it for a later meal.

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