Tip #23


Fan of Fiber   (fills you up …not out)

What is Fiber? Fiber is a substance that's found only in plants; it's also called "roughage". The body does not digest some parts of fiber so it has fewer calories than other carbohydrates.

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is found in most fruits, vegetables, oats, beans, and in psyllium. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains (wheat, corn, rice, and oats), beans, and the outer skins of fruits and vegetables.

Insoluble fiber is important for good health because it keeps the body running smoothly by helping promote regularity and helping to prevent constipation. By moving waste through the colon, insoluble fibers decrease transit time, which may help to decrease the risk for colon cancer. Soluble fiber binds to fatty substances and helps to excrete them. This quality helps to lower blood cholesterol levels, which may also reduce your risk for heart disease. Soluble fiber also helps regulate the body’s use of blood sugar. Both types of fiber may help to decrease certain types of cancer and promote good health. Higher fiber foods can also help you feel fuller longer after meals and/or snacks.

How Much Fiber Should You Eat? A general recommendation for fiber intake for adults is 21-38 grams per day (depending on age and gender). For children, a simple rule of thumb is the child's age plus 5, equals the number of grams of fiber the child needs daily.

How Can I Get Fiber in My Diet? This can be accomplished by eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily and six servings of whole grain breads, cereals, and other grains daily. (Watch how you cook your vegetables).

Read product labels! Look for whole grains listed in the product ingredients and check out the fiber content on the Nutrition facts label. Keep in mind that a product must state “whole-wheat” or “whole grain” for it to actually contain all wheat flour. Whole- wheat flour contains the entire wheat kernel. “Wheat flour” can be white flour that is derived from wheat or any combination of wheat elements ground into flour. Another words -wheat flour is about as nutritious as white flour unless it states “whole” wheat flour. Foods that are considered a "good source" of fiber contain 2-3 grams of fiber per serving. Foods that are "high in fiber" contain 5 grams of fiber or more per serving.

A Word of Caution: It's important to increase your fiber intake gradually so as to avoid unpleasant side effects such as cramping, indigestion, and excess gas. Be sure to drink plenty of water and fluids daily to keep you body hydrated and all the fiber moving through the body smoothly.


Tips for Adding Fiber to Your Diet

  1. Start your day with a bowl of whole grain or bran cereal topped with sliced fruit.
  2. Sneak fiber into a sandwich with shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, and sprouts in between two slices of whole wheat bread.
  3. Make a crunchy vegetable salad with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, cucumbers, whole wheat croutons, and a low-fat salad dressing
  4. Add barley, beans, lentils, or split peas to soup and stews.
  5. Add grapenuts or low-fat granola to your favorite yogurt.
  6. Grab a piece of fresh fruit or whole grain crackers for a snack.
  7. Use the following list to shop for high-fiber foods:
  • Wheat or bran cereal
  • Oatmeal or oat bran cereal
  • Whole wheat or whole grain bread
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Long grain brown rice (long grain rice has less CHO and less calories than instant rice)
  • Popcorn
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Beans (pinto, navy, kidney) and Lentils
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
  • Apples, bananas, peaches, pears, prunes
  • Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower
  • Potatoes (with skin)


To increase your intake of whole grains:

Choose foods that name one of the following ingredients first on the label’s ingredient list. These are all whole grains:

  • Brown rice
  • oatmeal
  • Whole-grain corn
  • whole wheat
  • Bulgur
  • pearl barley
  • Whole oats
  • wild rice
  • Graham flour
  • popcorn
  • whole rye

Try these tips for ways to include a variety of whole-grains:

  • Try a snack mix made with ready-to-eat, whole-grain cereals.
  • Use whole-grain or whole-wheat bread, muffins, buns, pitas, etc…
  • Use whole-grain bread or cracker crumbs in meatloaf or other recipes.
  • Try brown rice stuffing (cooked brown rice, onion, celery, and seasonings) in baked green peppers or tomatoes.
  • Try snack chips make with whole-grain such as baked tortilla chips.
  • Try whole-wheat pasta or brown rice with meals.
  • Use whole grains in mixed dishes such as pearl barley in vegetable soup and bulgur in casseroles or salads.

— Jaime Brenkus Health Tip 23