Heart Healthy Nutrition & Soluble Fiber!

As we wrap up Heart Health month, I wanted this blog to focus on heart healthy nutrition. Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in the US accounting for every 1 in 4 deaths that occur.  According to the Center for Disease Control, half of all Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease. These key risk factors are: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.

As a dietitian I try not to tell people to eliminate certain foods from their diets because it usually backfires. Instead, I like to focus on healthy things to add. For heart health the best thing you can add to your diet is soluble fiber. When you eat soluble fiber, it attaches to cholesterol (mostly LDL, the “bad” cholesterol) and removes it from your body. This reduces your blood cholesterol and your risk for heart disease. Soluble fiber can be found in oats, beans, legumes, flax seed, certain fruits, barley, and nuts.

Here are some easy ways to increase soluble fiber in your diet.

  • Add more beans to your meals. Black beans go great in tacos. Throw a can of white beans into a soup. Garbanzo beans can be added to a salad. Eat hummus (pureed garbanzo beans) as a snack with vegetables. They even go great in desserts (see recipe below)!
  • Start your day with oatmeal. I love making overnight oats, just throw oats and other ingredients in a mason jar with some liquid. Let it sit overnight and by morning you have a no fuss and healthy breakfast. You can even add instant oats to your smoothie!
  • Eat snacks that are high in soluble fiber like apples and peanut butter, yogurt with berries and flax seed, or a trail mix with nuts.
  • Use barley instead of rice in your next soup or stew.

If all else fails eat your soluble fiber with chocolate. This is one of my favorite brownie recipes, no one will know it’s make of black beans unless you tell them!

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies – Recipe by Liz Weiss, MS, RD and Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD

  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of applesauce (or canola oil)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat an 8 X 8-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place the black beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  Add the eggs, applesauce, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, peppermint extract as desired, baking powder, and salt and process until smooth.  Add ¼ cup of the chips and pulse a few times until the chips are incorporated.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips.
  4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before slicing into 2-inch squares.

This heart healthy blog was brought to you by Katrina Howard, RD, LDN, CPT, Director of Healthy Living

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