Fiber-Rich Foods ARe Not Just Important. They Are So easy to Incorporate into Your Daily Diet and a Must to Maintain a healthy Weight.
Fiber. For many of us, it conjures up images of boxes of Fiber One cereal, All-Bran or maybe Grape-Nuts. But these cereals, along with most cereals are shunned if you’re on a gluten-free, Paleo, or Keto diet. Even for those without a restrictive diet, we’re currently so focused on protein and fats that we forget the need for healthy fiber-rich foods.
Why do we need fiber? It lowers inflammation and reduces the risk of heart disease. It also helps to lower cholesterol. A high-fiber diet can significantly boost your metabolism, which ultimately has the biggest impact on weight maintenance and/or gain. And fiber is crucial for keeping your gut health on track. When your gut is thriving (aka your microbiome is healthy), your immune system will run more smoothly, helping fight infections and reduce symptoms of other more serious issues.
How much do you need? According to the American Heart Association, women need 25-35 grams per day (from food–not supplements) and most of us are getting about half of that. Good fiber choices include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts), greens, nuts, and seeds. If you’re eating beans and legumes, these can also contribute to your overall fiber goals. You want to make sure you’re eating both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Some foods are rich in both. Why do you need them both? Soluble fiber helps slow your digestion so you feel full longer. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, adds bulk, helping your digestion move smoothly. (I.E. Helps prevent constipation.)
So keep focusing on healthy fats, and good quality protein. Keep eating veggies. And now, add a bit more focus on fiber, too. Here are 4 ways to boost your fiber intake.
Don’t forget the skins.
For many fruits and veggies, a great deal of fiber is found in the skin. Sweet potatoes and potatoes are a great example. You’ll want to scrub them thoroughly before cooking to make sure to remove pesticide residue. And then try this Slow Roasted Sweet Potato recipe from Smitten Kitchen. We promise the extra cooking time is really worth it. Try it with the sizzling spices, add some lentils and you’ll be on your way to fulfilling your fiber quota!
Keep spiralizing and dicing.
While the zucchini noodle thing can get old, one thing is for certain, it certainly ups your fiber intake. Cauliflower rice is another good one. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to be mindful of how much you’re eating (especially with cauliflower rice), as it can cause a bit of bloat. Try zucchini noodles in place of pasta, or try it for breakfast—sautéed zoodles topped with a fried egg. Yum!
Add it to breakfast.
If you’re a fan of the smoothie bowl (and who isn’t?) you’re probably getting a good amount of fiber from the fruits and veggies. Try topping your bowls with chia seeds, figs, or oats for an additional boost. Chia seeds can easily be added to baked goods or granola, and one tablespoon of chia adds 6 grams of fiber as well as a small amount of protein. Overnight oats are another good way to get more fiber. Try adding fruit and more chia to up the ante. Looking for something savory? Try adding beans to your breakfast scramble, and don’t hesitate to go crazy with the veggies.
Often relegated to the cheese plate, figs are a forgotten fruit. But figs are one of the most fiber-rich foods and quite high in minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Figs also contain prebiotics, which helps improve your overall digestive health. Craving savory? Try figs with prosciutto. Sweet? Add them to your oatmeal, smoothies, or just eat them plain as a snack. (But keep it to two—they do have sugar.)
With her love of health and writing, Melissa has written for such publications as Shape, Natural Solutions, Yoga Journal, Self and Pilates Style, and has created recipes and food-oriented stories for such publications as Delicious Living and Cooking Light.