How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
There are a number of health benefits associated with eating a sufficient amount of fiber. Fiber consumption is credited with helping control weight, reducing bad cholesterol levels, mitigating the risks of heart disease, and even reducing the risk of developing certain types of colon cancers. While the health benefits of fiber are widely recognized, it is a fact that most Americans do not get enough fiber in their diets.
Unfortunately, the heavily processed foods that many Americans consume regularly, such as packed cookies, white flour and other heavily processed grains, French fries, and potato chips are not good sources of fiber. The best way to increase the amount of fiber you consume on a daily basis is to increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grain foods.
Whole Foods Versus Processed Foods
One of the best ways to be certain that you are getting a sufficient amount of fiber in your diet is to eat whole foods rather than processed foods. Oatmeal, for example, is one of the best sources of fiber and is credited with having a positive effect on cholesterol levels. However, eating instant oatmeal is not as beneficial as eating whole oats. This is because much of the fiber is stripped away during the processing required to convert regular oatmeal to the instant variety.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a much better source of fiber than their canned counterparts. Just like some of the health benefits of oatmeal are lost when the grains are processed, much of the fiber and nutrients are lost from fruits and vegetables when they are processed for canning. A whole, fresh peach is a much better dietary choice than sliced canned peaches.
What are The Best Fiber-Rich Foods?
Berries have the highest fiber content of all fruits. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries are excellent choices for those seeking to add fiber to their diets. Citrus fruits and apples are also great sources of dietary fiber. Most fruits, in their whole forms, provide a significant amount of dietary fiber.
Green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. Lettuce, spinach, and broccoli are among the best foods to consume when you are concerned with increasing fiber consumption. Most supermarkets today offer a wide selection of lettuce varieties, so it is easy to avoid the boredom of eating the same old salad day after day.
Whole grains, such as oat grain, flax seed, and whole wheat provide fiber-rich nutrition. When selecting grain products, make sure that you are choosing those items that truly are made from whole grain. If the word enriched appears on the nutrition label, the product is not really whole grain.
Many different types of legumes are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Lentils, chickpeas, black beans, and other similar legumes provide a great way to add healthy protein and fiber to your diet.
Nuts are another type of food that is rich in both protein and fiber. While nuts are very nutritious and an excellent way of adding fiber to your diet, it is important to note that they are calorie dense, and so should be consumed only in moderation by those who are attempting to watch their weight.
For more information on the role of fiber in weight loss, and how you can lose weight by eating more fiber, see my review of The F-Factor Diet book.