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I went to the doctor recently and he recommended I add more fiber to my diet. What are some good sources?

Smartliving Guest asked this
July 15, 2011 at 11:47 AM

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Your doctor is spot on! In fact, most Americans are not getting enough in their diet which is can be detrimental to our health as fiber can help lower cholesterol, promote regularity, promote weight loss, and even reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

What is fiber?

Fiber is a form of carbohydrate, found in whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit – not in animal products. There are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation and is found in bran, vegetables, fruit skins, nuts, and seeds. Soluble fiber is known for its ability to act as a sponge in our blood streams, soaking up cholesterol and blood sugar, helping to lower levels of both. This type of fiber is in oatmeal, apples, flax seed, and beans.

It is best to get fiber from whole foods as you will benefit from the complete nutrient package, although lately fiber is simply be added to processed food in order to increase health appeal.

What are added fibers?

Today’s supermarket is saturated with products not normally containing fiber, advertising their ‘healthy’ fiber content. Manufacturers have devised a technique to add fiber to things such as yogurt, chocolate bars, and cereals. As you read through the ingredient statements looking for these stealth fibers use caution with inulin and oligofructose as they may cause bloating and gas. Try to also avoid added vegetable fiber, commonly a cheap form of added fiber derived from bamboo and cottonseed extracts that is laden with chemical residues, obviously they may not be as healthy as they claim to be.

What about fiber supplements?

If you prefer to get your fiber from a supplement over whole foods, I recommend those made from psyllium seeds such as Metamucil (http://www.metamucil.com/our-products.php?gclid=CIGspJ3Ry6cCFYEUKgodFxRmFw) or Fiber Choice (http://www.fiberchoice.com/default.aspx?rotation=46596180&banner=222832804&placement={placement} ). How much fiber do you need? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans recommend that we eat 22-34 grams of fiber each day depending on your age and sex. If you eat 5 servings of fruit or vegetables and 6 servings of whole grains each day, you are surely reaching the recommendations.

Tips to squeeze more fiber into your day!

•Replace high-fat chips and dips with hummus, whole grain pita chips, and sliced veggies.

•Thicken soups by adding pureed cannellini beans for added fiber with a stealth ingredient.

•Add beans to marinara sauce or even your meatballs (http://www.everydayhealth.com/forums/eh-super-healthy-party-contest/topic/healthy-meatballs-with-marinara-sauce-turkey-beef-amp-bean).

•Incorporate Meatless Mondays (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/) into your meal routine with meals rich in whole grains and whole foods such as tacos, spicy bean chili, black bean or lentil soup (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/lentil-soup-recipe/index.html ), even bean salad (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/three_bean_salad.html ).

•Eat more whole grains such as oats, quinoa, barley, bulgur brown rice, whole-wheat, even popcorn.

•Enjoy a nutritious trail mix with raw almonds, walnuts, and dried berries.

•Mix things up on your next pizza night with a whole grain crust, light cheese, and extra veggies.

One of my favorite quick and simple bean recipes is ready in less than 10 minutes. Simply toss 1-2 cans of (rinsed) cannellini beans, 1 can diced Italian tomatoes, and 1 package of fresh spinach (or frozen) together in a skillet on medium-high. Stir the mix until the spinach is wilted if fresh and enjoy!

Jessica Corwin MPH RDN Health Coach answered
July 21, 2011 at 9:11 PM
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