Choose “Heart Smart” Carbs!

“Renew You” Challenge – Be a part of my Weekly Challenge to help set you off on the right foot for bringing health to your week. You could even add it to your calendar. Join us! This week we’re focusing on eating better for your heart.

We all know that what we eat has a lot to do with how healthy we are—especially when it comes to heart health. But with all the talk about things like trans fats and saturated fats being linked to high cholesterol and heart disease, a lot of folks overlook another important dietary factor that can have a pretty big impact on your heart: carbs.

Recently scientists in Australia conducted a study about how certain types of carbohydrates can affect healthy cardiovascular function—and not in a good way. The guilty carbs are those with a high glycemic index that can cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket, like processed snacks, cereals and baked goods loaded with refined sugars, along with white bread and even potatoes.

Basically, the rapid rise in glucose (blood sugar) contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries and has been linked to dangerous inflammation and even blood clots. Not only that, but scientists think that women may be even more affected than men by heart-hazardous carbs, which is a scary thought considering the number one cause of death among American women is coronary heart disease. So I bet you can guess what’s coming next, right?

This week—and I’m looking at you, girls!—let’s focus on choosing the right carbs for a healthier heart. Start by replacing things like white bread, white rice (and pasta), sugary low-fiber cereals, processed snacks and baked goods with whole grains, oats and brown rice. Ditch the potatoes and eat more beans instead, since beans are one of those good carbs that are digested slowly by the body and won’t cause a sharp rise in blood sugar.

Overall, stick with foods that are high in fiber, and be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. When you’re thirsty, pass on sugary fruit juices and soft drinks and opt for purified water and unsweetened herbal teas instead. Your heart will thank you!

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