Monday, February 23, 2015

Fabulous Fiber

We’re constantly being told that fiber is good for us, but the question is, why?  But, first of all, what exactly is fiber?  Fiber comes from plants like whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, and interestingly enough, our body can’t digest it.  This is important because it passes right on through our digestive tract, which keeps our bodies functioning at their best.  There are two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is what helps to lower cholesterol and glucose levels.  It is commonly found in foods such as oats, beans, carrots, and apples.  Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water; rather, it is what provides the roughage our body needs.  Wheat flour, bran, beans, and vegetables are some foods that contain insoluble fiber.  For the most benefit, try and eat a combination of foods that contain soluble and insoluble fiber.  You’ll find that many foods have both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Fiber has tons of benefits, including helping to prevent several types of diseases.  It helps to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels, thus helping to prevent heart disease and diabetes.  Without a doubt, fiber helps with digestive problems.  Fiber actually helps with weight gain because it helps you to feel full faster.
The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25g for women, and 38g for men.  If you’re thinking about taking a fiber supplement, know that they have their place, but many of the benefits are best obtained when fiber is consumed from whole foods.  To increase your fiber intake, consume more WHOLE foods like whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  The more refined a product is, the less fiber it has.  Think brown vs. white rice, or whole wheat vs. white pasta.  When increasing your fiber intake, please do so slowly. Make it a gradual transition and be sure to increase your water intake.

Foods high in fiber:
o   3 cups air-popped popcorn (3.6g)
o   1 ounce almonds (3.5g)
o   1 cup raspberries (8g)
o   ½ cup cooked black beans (7.5g)
o   1 large pair with skin (7g)

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