How to Get More Fiber into Your Diet
We’ve all heard that fiber is an important part of a balanced diet. Science agrees — the Mayo Clinic says fiber aids in healthy digestion, helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy, tasty ways to get more fiber in your diet.
Start with salad
Before you dig into the main course at dinner, consider a salad. Leafy greens are filling, low in calories, and high in nutrients — including fiber. According to a 2012 study funded by the National Institutes of Health, women who ate a salad before dinner ended up eating 23 percent more vegetables than women who ate salad alongside dinner. As a bonus, this salad may help you cut calories. Dietary studies have shown that eating a pre-meal salad is linked to consuming fewer calories while chowing down on the main course.
Gobble up grains
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber. Reach for breads and snacks that are made with whole grains. Other sources of whole grains include oatmeal and brown rice. You can also try adding grains to your soups and salads — Bulgur wheat, quinoa, and farro make delicious, nutty additions to meals. Since it’s a whole grain, popcorn can be surprisingly healthy — assuming it’s not doused with butter. For every three cups, you’ll get four grams of fiber. To get the healthiest popcorn, reach for the air popper, or simply microwave kernels in a brown paper bag.
Beans, lentils and peas are packed with fiber, protein and nutrients. Mix them into a stir fry, or use them to replace starchy carbohydrates. For instance, consider swapping white rice for lentils as a side dish. This goes for snacks, too. Since it’s made with chickpeas, hummus makes it easy to add fiber to your diet — just use it as a dip or a sandwich spread. You can also add beans to soups and salads — since fiber is filling, they’ll make your meal more satisfying.
Blend some berries
If you’re looking for an easy and tasty way to add some fiber to your life, try blending whole-fruit smoothies. Berries, bananas, and plain yogurt make a great starting point for a healthy, fiber-filled smoothie. For some extra nutritional punch, add a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds to your smoothie. You’ll hardly notice its presence, but your body will appreciate the extra three grams of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Swap your snacks
Fruit is portable, tasty and high in fiber, making it an ideal part of a brown-bag lunch. While all fruit delivers fiber, some fruits pack more of a punch than others. For example, one pear gives you five grams of fiber, while a cup of watermelon offers one gram. Other smart choices include berries and apples. Plus, you can feel good about choosing a snack that’s relatively low in calories and high in vitamins and antioxidants.
Eating too much fiber at once can lead to digestive upset, so the Harvard Medical School recommends adding just one high-fiber meal to your diet per week, so your body can gradually adjust. Drinking plenty of water can also help your body acclimate to a high-fiber diet. Before changing your diet, consult with a healthcare professional to see if these tips are right for you.
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