Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Eating a fiber-rich diet has many health benefits, including supporting cardiovascular health, blood sugar balance, promoting digestive and colon health, supporting weight management, cholesterol reduction, and it's even associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. Nutrition and health experts recommend that women get at least 25 grams of fiber daily, and men at least 38 grams, if not more. Unfortunately, many people do not even get half those amounts.
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.
If fiber consumption hasn’t been a priority in the past, don’t overdo it and try to get 40 grams of fiber in all at once. Start slowly and drink plenty of water to help your body get used to it.
10 Ways to Add More Fiber to Your Diet
1. Sprinkle flax seed over your breakfast
Flaxseeds are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber and contain about 2 grams of fiber per tablespoon. Make sure you buy ground flaxseeds or grind them yourself to get the maximum health benefits. Sprinkle some over yogurt, oatmeal or cereal.
2. Try Chia
Chia seeds contain 5.5 grams of fiber per tablespoon. They can also absorb 10 times their own weight in liquid, acquiring a gelatinous texture in the process. This makes the seeds perfect for making pudding.
3. Eat more veggies
Eating lots of vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnip greens, cauliflower and carrots is an excellent way to get your needed fiber. Ensure you fill up on fiber from veggies by making them the star of your meals.
4. Skip the juice, eat the fruit
Because fiber absorbs water, drinking plenty of fluids is important with a high-fiber diet. For example, while apples are rich in fiber, this doesn’t mean that apple juice is the best choice. One medium apple with the skin contains about 4.5 grams of fiber, while a glass of apple juice contains only 0.4 grams. So skipping the juice and reaching for an apple will ensure you get the cholesterol-lowering benefits of fiber that apple juice just doesn’t offer.
5. Swap white for brown
Refined grains, like white rice, are processed to remove the bran and germ. Most of the fiber is also taken out during this process. One cup of cooked brown rice has 3.5 grams of fiber, while white rice has just 0.6 grams.
6. Go nuts!
Nuts and seeds are a healthy addition to your diet, especially if you’re looking for ways to up your fiber intake. For example, a handful of almonds provides 3.5 grams of fiber. This fiber will not only support healthy cholesterol levels, but also help you stay full through to your next meal.
7. Add lentils to your diet
One cup of boiled lentils contains 15.5 grams. Lentils are also low in fat, packed with protein, and high in nutrients like folate, iron, phosphorus and potassium. This makes it a perfect substitute for meat.
8. Eat your berries
For every cup, raspberries have 8 grams of fiber, blueberries provide 3.6 grams, and strawberries contain about 3 grams. These are perfect snacks for those with a sweet tooth!
9. Pop some popcorn
Next time it’s movie night, put away the chips and milk duds and grab some popcorn. There are 3.5 grams of fiber per three cups of air-popped popcorn.
If you’re still finding it hard to get the recommended amount of fiber into your diet, it could be time to try a fiber supplement. Fiber supplements can sometimes cause discomfort and bloating, so be sure to introduce a fiber supplement slowly and take it alongside plenty of water. Consult your health care practitioner before adding any new supplement to your routine.
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