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How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet

 

by Katie Morell

Fiber offers excellent nutritious benefits for a healthy diet. In fact, research suggests eating more fiber may reduce women’s stroke risk, with every seven-gram increase in total dietary fiber associated with a 7 percent lower risk of first-time stroke. The American Heart Association recommends at least 25 grams of fiber daily for most adults.

Fiber-rich foods include some whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts. As a perspective, one serving of whole-wheat pasta plus about two servings of vegetables and fruits can provide 7 grams of fiber.

How can you guarantee more fiber in your diet every day?

Read nutrition labels

It is important to get 100 percent of the fiber you need every day. Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you make healthier choices.

Look at the nutrition labels, and about halfway down each label you will see a line for “Dietary Fiber.” According to the American Heart Association, if you want to ingest more fiber, read your nutrition label and seek foods with a higher % DV of fiber (note that 20 percent or more is high).

Eat whole grains

Choose breads, crackers and cereals made from high fiber whole grains. Refined grains are stripped of their healthy outer coat (bran), which lowers the fiber content. Brown rice is a whole grain; white rice is not. Similarly, removing the skin from fruits and vegetables decreases their fiber content. It’s better to eat an apple than to drink apple juice.

Try new things

Whole-grain pasta may sound unusual, but it’s delicious and doesn’t take any longer to cook than white pasta. Bulgur, quinoa and barley are good side dishes or chilled in salads. Add fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews. Add chopped fresh spinach or frozen spinach to soups. Or make a pesto from spinach and walnuts. Try adding crushed bran cereal or oat bran to muffins and cookie recipes.

Add some beans

Tuck beans into whole-grain tortillas or pita bread. Add them to soups, salads, and pasta dishes. Toss beans into sautéed veggies or mix them with cooked greens and garlic.

Rise and shine (and snack)

Start your day with a high-fiber cereal or oatmeal. Add some bananas, berries or other fruit. Or, crush up that high-fiber cereal and mix it with yogurt. Whip up a breakfast smoothie in your blender with frozen fruit and nonfat milk. Fresh or dried fruit, raw vegetables, and low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers are all good snack choices. And a small handful of unsalted, unoiled nuts or pumpkin seeds is a portable, healthy, high-fiber snack star!

Learn more healthy cooking ideas on Go Red.