Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus.See all posts »
Super Nutrient of the Week: Fiber
Fiber, a word many people often associate with…cardboard. While this is so far from the truth, the bottom line is that it's a nutrient you don’t want to miss! Fiber in general terms is the non-digestible parts of the plant also known as “roughage”. Fiber is found in complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and some cereals. None of those taste like cardboard to me!
There are two forms of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Soluble fiber is the form of fiber that is readily broken down into physiologically active byproducts and gases.
- Insoluble fiber is more resistant to digestion and helps to prevent constipation by producing bulkier and softer stools.
Both soluble and insoluble forms are needed for good health. Both forms help with:
- Reduced cholesterol
- Weight management
- Regulate blood sugars
- Digestive health
Many Americans today consume far below the recommended intake of 25-30 grams of fiber per day. While it may seem like a ton of extra effort to add fiber into your daily diet, I have 10 easy ways to help you reach the recommended intakes with minimum effort!
1) Instead of eggs and bacon, substitute old fashioned steel cut oats at your breakfast meal for an additional 2-4 grams of fiber per serving.
2) If you like to eat toast in the morning, use whole wheat bread. If you would rather have an English Muffin or Bagel Thin there are whole wheat brands that contain 5 or more grams of fiber per slice!
4) Make a yummy baked potato to go along with your lunch or dinner.
5) Switch to a high fiber cereal or add few tablespoons of wheat bran or 1/3 of a cup of All Bran or Fiber One to your current fave cereal.
6) Bake muffins that incorporate crushed bran cereal or wheat bran.
7) Buy a frozen cheese pizza, cut up your favorite veggies for the top, cook and enjoy. Add a fruit salad or lettuce salad to boost fiber and antioxidants!
8) Cook brown or wild rice instead of white rice. If you can’t switch to brown right away, try throwing some barley in with your white rice for more fiber content. You'll barely taste the barley!
9) Make yogurt parfaits with low fat Greek yogurt, fruit, and your favorite whole grain cereal (look for cereals with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving).
10) Make a smoothie with lots of fresh fruit. Add some flax or wheat germ if you are really daring!
Make sure that as you increase your fiber intake, you increase your fluids as well. Fiber pulls water into the intestines. Without adequate hydration, fiber can actually aggravate rather than alleviate constipation. So try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day!