Delicious High Fiber Foods
When asked to "Name two high fiber foods", I said "Bread and cereal". That would be high school health class, and that answer would be WRONG. We associate bread and cereal with fiber, because bread and cereal makers often put "good source of fiber" on their packaging. But my health teacher wanted me to know that there is more fiber-in its more natural state-in fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Why Eat High Fiber Foods in the First Place?
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both are important. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help lower cholesterol. It forms a gel that helps you feel full. Oats "stay with you" because they give you lots of soluble fiber, over more refined fiber-free foods, i.e. a donut. Because soluble fiber helps keep your blood sugar levels even, you are less likely to develop type two diabetes if your diet is full of High Fiber Foods.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and helps keep you regular. Research suggests that insoluble fiber lowers your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticulitis). Your whole digestive system, from your stomach to your colon, will be healthier with a steady diet of high fiber foods.
Bring on the Fiber!
You need 20-40 grams of fiber a day. I am not a fan of counting your food, be it fat grams, calories or fiber grams. If your food comes in a box, can or package, it might not be full of fiber. You'll do better in the produce department.
Start with fruits and vegetables. Dried fruits are high in fiber, but be sure to choose unsweetened varieties. Adding raisins to your cereal adds fiber to your morning. You can add vegetables to lots of things. Keep bags of frozen mixed vegetables in the freezer and sprinkle them in everything from spaghetti sauce to macaroni and cheese. Sometimes if you want to hide your veggies you can puree them and add them to sauces. Fresh fruit and berries make a great dessert and will up your fiber intake.
Next are the legumes. Split peas, black beans and lentils are LOADED with fiber! Try to eat some kind of legume every day. They are great if you're trying to loose weight, because they are very filling. Beans are very inexpensive, especially when bought dry. But if soaking and boiling will keep you from beaning, then by all means, buy canned. Make sure that the ingredient list is short: beans, salt, water. Nothing else! :)
Nuts are a favorite high fiber food. Adding almonds or pecans to your breakfast is a great way to add fiber. A handful of (unsalted) sunflower seeds is a great healthy snack.
Finally, we must discuss: Breads and Cereal. And Pasta. Whole grain versions of these things can be high in fiber. But often, high fiber breads and cereals have less desirable ingredients added to improve the texture, like
high fructose corn syrup.
Certainly, your bread, cereal, and pasta should be whole grain. Oats are a great source of fiber, and steel cut oats are the least processed, so they retain the most fiber AND nutrition. And of course, brown rice over white rice, please! But if you are relying on bread, pasta, and cereal to be your source of fiber, you are missing out on super yummy fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts!!
I hope you've decided to add some fiber to your diet. Please, let me know how it goes!
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