Sneaking in Fiber

March 2010
This month’s recipe is actually 10 great tips for getting more fiber (“good carbs”) into your diet. Fiber protects us from heart disease, cancer, and digestive problems. It lowers our cholesterol and helps with weight control. This is one nutrient you don’t want to miss!

Article by: Reader’s Digest

“Good carbs” refer to complex carbohydrates. These are foods like whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds that are composed largely of complex sugar molecules that require lots of time and energy to digest into the simple sugars your body needs for fuel. Virtually every weight-loss program–Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers–welcomes complex carbs as part of a healthy, lean, long-term diet.

One of the biggest benefits of foods rich in complex carbs is that they also contain large amounts of fiber (the indigestible parts of plant foods – the husk on the grain of wheat, the thin strands in celery, the crunch in the apple, the casings on edible seeds). Fiber protects you from heart disease, cancer, and digestive problems. It lowers cholesterol, helps with weight control, and regulates blood sugar. Yet, average Americans get just 12-15 grams per day–far below the recommended 25-30 grams.

Here’s how to sneak “good carbs” and extra fiber into your diet:

1. Eat cereal every day. Aim for a whole grain, unsweetened cereal with at least 4 grams of fiber per serving…Kellogg’s All-Bran Original, Kashi GOLEAN or Kellogg’s Raisin Bran.

2. Eat two apples every day. Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that digests slowly. 5 grams of pectin leave you feeling full for up to 4 hours.

3. Make a yogurt mix once/week. Mix 1 small container of yogurt, 1/3 cup All-Bran cereal, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds and 5 diced strawberries for a whopping 12.2 grams of fiber–nearly half your daily allowance!

4. Dip baby carrots and broccoli florets in low-fat ranch dressing as your afternoon snack 3 days/week. You’ll get about 5 grams of fiber in each cup of veggies.

5. Keep a container of gorp in your car and office. Mix together peanuts, raisins, high-fiber cereal like All-Bran, and chocolate covered soy nuts. Have a handful for a sweet snack.

6. Switch to whole grain crackers. 1 regular whole wheat cracker has 1/2 gram of fiber. 10 crackers give you 5 grams of fiber. Spread peanut butter on whole grain crackers (look for brands that have 0 trans fat).

7. Mix your regular cereal with the high-test stuff. If you can’t face an entire bowl of All-Bran, mix 1/3 cup with an equal amount of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios and you’ll barely know it’s there (1/3 cup packs a walloping 8.5 grams of fiber.)

8. Add kidney beans or chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) to your salad. 1/4 cup adds an additional 5 grams of dietary fiber.

9. Make sure the first ingredient in whole grain products has the word “whole” in it, as in “whole wheat,” or “whole grain.” If it says multi-grain, seven-grain, nutra-grain, cracked wheat, stone-ground wheat, unbromated wheat or enriched wheat, it’s not whole wheat, and thus is lacking some of the vitamins and minerals, not to mention fiber, of whole grains.

10. Every week, try one “exotic” grain. How about amaranth, bulgur, or wheatberries? Most are as simple to fix as rice, yet packed with fiber and flavor. Mix in steamed carrots and broccoli, toss with olive oil and Parmesan or feta cheese, maybe throw in a can of tuna or a couple ounces of cut-up chicken, and you’ve got dinner.