5 Easy Ways to Add More Fiber

fiber

By April Irvine

Eating enough fiber is important to prevent certain diseases, cancer, and aids in weight management. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate, a large molecule that takes longer for the body to breakdown to use as energy. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber attracts water to form a gel which slows down digestion.  This is why fiber has a lasting effect of fullness because it delays the emptying of our stomach. Because you feel fuller longer, you will eat less. The slow breakdown of fiber also slows the release of sugars into your blood. This is especially beneficial for preventing diabetes and for those who are diabetic. Alsofiber01__1_2_3656_5035_1_1_51, the gel like substance of soluble fiber binds with LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol in our gastrointestinal tract to be excreted.

Insoluble fibers are healthy for your gut or digestive system because it helps ‘bulk’ your stools and can help treat constipation. Because it does not combine with water, it passes through your digestive track quickly- keeping you regular in the bathroom.

US Department of Agriculture recommends 25 to 38 grams per day. Follow these easy tips to get more fiber in your day

  1. Eat fruits – eat rather than drink your fruits. Dried fruits such as dried figs are high in fiber.
  2. Eat vegetables – try to include in most meals and snacks.
  3. Read the Nutrition Label – choose foods with the highest dietary fiber per serving. Oatmeal is a good source of fiber.
  4. Don’t peel edible skins from fruits or vegetables – there is fiber in the skin. Instead wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  5. Eat beans, lentils, and split peas – these foods are fiber filling and inexpensive. When buying the canned forms, don’t forget to rinse them in a colander before using, to remove excess sodium.

References:

1. http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/consumers/eating-health/fiber

2. Lattimer JM, Haub MD. Effects of dietary fiber and its components on metabolic health. Nutrients. 2010;2(12):1266-89.

3. Rideout TC, Harding SV, Jones PJ, Fan MZ. Guar gum and similar soluble fibers in the regulation of cholesterol metabolism: current understandings and future research priorities. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(5):1023-33.

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Spilling the Beans

beans

By April Irvine

If you haven’t already, it’s time to hop aboard the bean bandwagon because not only is it tasty, but its good for you too. Since starting graduate school, beans have become a pantry staple in my home because they are an inexpensive source of energy (typically less than 25 cents/cup) while providing all the nutrients my body needs. They are high in protein and soluble fiber and a good source of vitamins and minerals. Diets rich in soluble fiber are associated with improved blood sugar control, cholesterol levels, and may protect against heart disease. Not to mention they help bring regularity in the bathroom.

  • Beans are typically sold dried, canned, or frozen. If you choose canned beans, choose the canned variety with less sodium or rinse and drain canned beans to remove up to 40% of the sodium.
  • Vary your beans. Beans can be found in many shapes, colors, and textures. Serve beans for any or all meals of the day. Use bean flour in desserts or freeze pureed beans in ice trays to thicken soups.
  • Cook more than you need. Cooked beans can be refrigerated for at least four days and frozen for up to a year.
  • If cooking dry beans from scratch, avoid adding acidic ingredients like tomatoes or vinegar until they are almost finished. Adding acidic ingredients too early slows the cooking process.
  • Don’t fear side effects. Flatulence can occur if you eat beans because of the indigestible carbohydrates, however research shows eating beans more often and discarding the water used to soak/cook the beans can help reduce gas.

black bean

Black
Black beans are an excellent source of fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, and a phytonutrient called anthocyanins. Enjoy the earthy flavor of black beans in salads, mashed into burgers, soups, dips, or brownies.

Black-Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are a good source of fiber, magnesium and zinc. These beans pair well with tomatoes, rice and leafy greens.

Lima
Lima beans are an excellent source of fiber and potassium. Try this recipe: Lima bean succotash.

Soybeans (Edamame)
Edamame_-_boild_green_soybeansSoybeans are an excellent source of calcium, iron and potassium. Research suggests whole soy protein may lower the risk of breast cancer and bone loss in some populations and lower cholesterol levels. Soybeans can be steamed, purred into dips, or toss into stir-fry’s.

Kidney (Red and White)
Kidney beans are high in fiber and folate and deliver robust flavor. Because of their thicker skin, kidney beans hold their shape with longer cook times, such as chili, but are also delicious in salads. White kidney beans (also called cannellini) are a bit milder and can be added to salads and sauces.

Chickpea or Garbanzohummus
Chickpeas are high in fiber, folate, potassium and magnesium. Enjoy chickpeas in a creamy hummus, vegetable-rich salad or in stews.

Dare to try something new?

References:

1. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/

2. http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442477978

3. http://beaninstitute.com/recipes/cooking-with-dry-beans/