More Reasons to Eat More Fiber

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Eating a fiber-rich diet has many health benefits, including supporting cardiovascular health, blood sugar balance, promoting digestive and colon health, supporting weight management, and cholesterol reduction. And now, a recent meta-analysis shows that a high-fiber diet is also associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.

Nutrition and health experts recommend that men and women eat at least 25 grams of fiber daily, if not more. Unfortunately, many people tend to fall short of this suggested amount. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes provide the body with great sources of fiber. These foods provide different forms of fiber (insoluble and soluble) and we need them both for optimal health.

Insoluble fiber (mainly found in whole grains and vegetables) tends to act like a bulking agent and can help speed elimination. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve and therefore can help with the feeling of fullness and aid the body in toxin removal. Soluble fiber (found mainly in legumes, vegetables, and fruits) can help to stabilize blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol by forming a gel-like substance that slows down digestion and the absorption of cholesterol.

Here are 5 ways to get more fiber into your diet:

1.    Choose whole grains over refined grains. Examples include eating brown rice over white rice, and looking for 100% whole wheat breads, pasta, crackers, and cereals. Other healthy grains include steel cut oats, quinoa, rye, amaranth, bulgur, kamut, and spelt.

2.    Aim to eat at least 4 servings of vegetables daily. Choose sweet potatoes, artichokes, spinach and other greens, squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peppers, cabbage, etc.

3.    Include more legumes in your diet. Navy beans, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils, etc. are all great options. If you tend not to be a bean fan, try hummus or other bean dips, and bean soups.

4.    Skip fruit juice and opt to eat the whole fruit instead. Enjoy pears, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, apples, figs, dates, prunes, cherries, and bananas.

5.    Eat more nuts and seeds. Toss a handful of almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds, into your yogurt or your salad to amp up your fiber intake

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August 2011
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