Amazing Health Benefits of Eating More Fiber
By Pam Evans, MS RD
Just a few years ago, fiber was the nutritional F-word that no one wanted to use. But recent research has shown that filling up on foods that contain fiber can help you lose weight and keep it off. But unfortunately, most of us simply don’t get enough fiber in our diet. And to make matters worse, we don’t have a clue how much fiber we should eat in a typical day.
How Does Fiber Help
You see, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. So, it acts as an internal scrub brush for the body. It is also an important component of food as it helps us feel fuller and keeps us satisfied for a longer period. There are both soluble and insoluble fibers in all fiber-containing foods. These fibers work differently, but both contribute to your health in the following ways:
1.Fiber assists in lower intestinal health. Insoluble fiber, the type of fiber in whole grains, wheat bran and many vegetables, helpss. prevent
2. Fiber supports blood sugar control. Soluble fiber can help control blood sugar in people with diabetes. This fiber is found in peas and beans (lentils, split peas, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans etc.). It is also found in oats, barley, apples and other fruits including avocado.
3.Fiber is a blood cholesterol moderator. Soluble fiber may also help to lower some people’s cholesterol.
4. Fiber aids in weight reduction. High fiber foods are usually lower calorie foods. By eating a high fiber, low fat diet, it is possible to cut back on calories naturally.
How Much Fiber Do We Need
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the National Cancer Institute recommend 25 grams minimum per day. Here are some important tips to keep in mind as you increase your fiber intake:
1. Phase higher fiber foods in gradually.
2. Don’t overdo it! Too much fiber (60 grams per day) can rob your body of valuable vitamins and minerals).
3. Drink more fluids as you increase your fiber.
4. Enjoy whole fruits instead of their juices.
5. When cooking dried beans, soak them in water and discard the soaking water. Cook the beans in fresh water.
Three Easy Ways to Increase Fiber
1. Add berries to your breakfast cereal, yogurt, salads, cottage cheese or have a bowl for healthy desserts.
2. Avocados are rich in potassium, healthy fats and have lots of fiber! Cut them up and add to salads or slice them and add to sandwiches. Make some guacamole with fresh tomatoes for a healthy high fiber dip.
3. Add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to any foods; remember to keep this in the refrigerator once it is opened.
Remember, if you are eating more vegetables and portioned servings of fruit, dried beans and whole grains, you are doing a great job of increasing your fiber!