How-to: Add More Fiber To Your Diet

May 11, 2007

Most people know that the advice to eat your vegetables and choose whole grains has something to do with consuming enough vitamins and minerals. But when you make the move to eat more salads, put veggies on your pizza and choose whole-grain bread for a deli sandwich, you're adding an often overlooked and underappreciated substance to your diet -- fiber.

Most fiber comes from plant foods, such as beans, broccoli and oatmeal. It's the part of the plant that your body can't digest, so it essentially comes out in the original form it went in, making it calorie-free. There are several kinds of fiber, but the two groups you should make a mental note of are soluble and insoluble. Most high-fiber foods contain a mix, but soluble fiber is the main fiber in barley, oatmeal and fruits such as apples, figs and peaches.

Insoluble fiber is the main fiber in whole-grain breads, brown rice, whole-grain breakfast cereals and vegetables such as asparagus, kale and peas.

Why all the fuss about fiber? High-fiber diets help keep you from suffering crazy highs and lows in blood-sugar levels, they help lower cholesterol, prevent constipation and may reduce your risk of some cancers. High-fiber diets slow down digestion, making you feel full longer.

The daily fiber intake for most American adults is less than 15 grams, much less than the recommended 20 to 35 grams a day. Arguably, it's not that easy to consume that much each day, but it can be done if you know where to find fiber-rich foods.

Lentils (half cup) 8 grams
Raspberries (1 cup) 8 grams
Beans, pinto (half cup) 6 grams
Whole-wheat pasta (1 cup) 6 grams
Dried figs (2) 5 grams
100 percent bran ( 3/4 cup) 5 grams

Roasted soy nuts (1 ounce) 5 grams

Almonds (1 ounce) 4 grams
Broccoli (1 cup) 4 grams
Brown rice (1 cup) 4 grams
Green peas (half cup) 4 grams
Oatmeal, instant, plain (1 packet) 3 grams
Dried plums (prunes) (quarter cup) 4 grams
Wild rice (1 cup) 3 grams
Banana (1) 3 grams

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