Increase Your Dietary Fiber Intake
You may have heard that dietary fiber is important for your overall health and the health of your digestive system. Dietary fiber is composed of the parts of plants that your body cannot digest and is sometimes separated into two categories in the nutrition facts box on the food label, soluble and insoluble fiber.
According to the American Heart Association, soluble fibers may help reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol when combined with a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Food sources of insoluble fiber helps keep you regular. Some, but not all, studies show that people who consume diets that are high in overall fiber intake tend to weigh less. These findings may result from the fact that foods which are important sources of fiber in the diet include whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables, and legumes – all foods which tend to have a large volume for the amount of calories they contain and therefore can help fill you up.
The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 14 grams of total fiber for every 1,000 calories you need. The Dietary Guidelines for American recommends that at least half of your grain intake come from whole grains because they are an important source of fiber in the diet.
Five Simple Ways to Increase Fiber in Your Diet
Remember, it is important to increase your fiber intake slowly to allow your digestive system to adapt.
- Choose a Breakfast That Provides Fiber – Begin with a cereal that’s a good source of fiber like oatmeal or another whole grain that contains 2.5 or more grams of fiber per serving. It is a great way to begin a healthy day!
- Toppings are Tops – If you're having oatmeal for breakfast, try adding some whole or sliced fruit, such as bananas or blackberries, to help with your overall intake of fiber.
- Read the Label – If a label says that the product is "rich in," "excellent source of" or "high in" fiber, it means that the product provides 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. Also, look to see whether whole wheat or another whole grain is listed as the first ingredient to ensure that the product is a source of whole grain.
- Snack on Fruit and Nuts – Dried fruit or nuts can make convenient, healthy and fiber filled snacks when you’re on the go.
- Peel Appeal – Keep the peels on your fruits and vegetables to boost healthy fiber intake from whole food sources.