Fiber is a necessary part of your diet but in this day and age of carbonated sodas, Twinkies and other processed foods, you may not be getting enough. Plant derived fiber is best for your health but do you even know why fiber is so important? First of all, fiber is the nutritional way to “roto-rooter” your digestive tract.
Because fiber is bulky, it will slow down digestion, making you feel fuller faster, preventing you from overeating. Next, it acts like one of those trucks that brush the street, sweeping undigested food debris, cholesterol and other unhealthy deposits out through the intestines for eventual elimination.
Lowering cancer risks as well as heart disease are two other positive by-products to boosting your fiber intake. In fact, many studies show that fiber can significantly reduce a variety of heart ailments. The health benefits that fiber provides is invaluable and the reason why people who do not get enough often end up taking supplements.
Fiber is definitely more beneficial when derived from what you eat rather than a pill or powder you mix with a drink. Here are some easy tips for boosting heart-healthy fiber in your diet:
1. Fruits are an important fiber source, especially when you consume the skins. Pears and apples are two examples where the fiber is the most plentiful in the flesh of the fruit right next to the skin so the only way to benefit is to eat all of it. Other fruits have skins which are consumable such as plums, peaches, apricots and nectarines. Of course, other fruits also contain fiber in their pulp and are equally healthy.
2. Vegetables also have a lot of fiber, although some have more than others. Avocadoes, lima beans, artichokes, green peas, brussels sprouts, cabbage, okra and chickpeas (what hummus is made from) all have high fiber. It is important to note that all vegetables do have some fiber although some like bell pepper, lettuce, potatoes and even fresh tomatoes have low levels.
3. Always choose whole wheat products over white flour-based ones because the grains used to make the white flour has been refined and stripped of its nutrients. Whole grain cereals, pastas, breads and brown rice are best.
When it comes to snacking, choose healthy selections that have a fair dose in fiber in them. Make a smoothie using fiber-enriched yogurt and fresh fruit. Pop popcorn but lay off on the butter and salt. Choose hummus as your veggie dip of choice as a snack as it is made from garbanzo beans (chick peas) which are high in fiber. Make cookies or muffins with whole wheat flour rather than the white kind.
Fair warning: while fiber is very important for overall good health, you should introduce it slowly into your diet. If you do not, you stand the chance of developing flatulence, diarrhea, cramping and other abdominal distress. As you introduce additional fiber rich foods to your diet, always drink plenty of water which will keep the fiber moving through the body.
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