Everybody knows that fiber is good for your health. It aids in digestion, helps you lose weight, provides your body with energy and keeps the body functioning smoothly in general.
But the modern diet fails to accounts for the much needed fiber. In fact, less than 5 percent Americans actually take in the recommended amount of fiber per day. This is probably why there are so many people suffering from diseases caused by low intake of fiber like, constipation, stroke, hypertension and heart disease.
Another issue is that the Western diet is high in processed foods and animal based products, like meat, cheese, milk and refined grain. These food items are not good sources of fiber.
To increase fiber content in our bodies, we need to switch to plant based products like, Brussels sprouts, apples, spinach, carrots and unrefined grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley etc.
The reason fiber is so important to our body is because it is an essential part of the processes that eliminate toxin and wastes. It helps to keep the colon clean, feed the good bacteria in our gut to keep it healthy, and lead to complete absorption of food nutrients so you stay satiated for longer time and you blood sugar remains at healthy levels.
Including fiber in your diet is not a hard process. There a number of fruits, vegetables and unrefined grains that contain sufficient amounts of fiber. The following food items should be included in your diet to adequately meet your fiber requirements, which is 25 grams for women and 35 – 40 grams for men:
Here is another way an apple a day can keep the doctor way. A medium sized apple, with skin, contains about 4.4 grams of fiber.
This is an economical and easy way to meet your daily recommended fiber intake. Simply keep an apple to snack on while you work. Or add them to your daily bowl of fruit salad.
Apart from fiber, apples are also a good match for your morning coffee and will help you stay awake during those boring hours of work as effectively as caffeine but without the harmful effects.
Yup, that’s right. Your dreaded childhood vegetable is actually great for your adult self as they are a good source of fiber.
A cup of raw broccoli, chopped up, has about 2.4 grams of fiber. Added benefits include high dosage of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, B vitamins, potassium, iron and manganese antioxidants and potent cancer-fighting nutrients.
To cook broccoli, steam or sauté until it is bright green. Do not overcook it or else all the nutrients will be destroyed, leaving you with a bad tasting vegetable with no benefits to your body.
You can add raw broccoli to your vegetable salad, make a broccoli soup, blend a few in your protein shake, or you could simply include it as a side dish to your meat filled main course by baking or steaming broccoli and seasoning it with pepper and salt.
3. Chia Seeds
One ounce of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber! Which is why, it comes under the category of high fiber foods. High fiber foods contain 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.
You can eat chia seeds by sprinkling a spoonful of dry chia seeds in yogurt, oatmeal smoothies or top it off on your salad. When adding them to smoothies or yogurt, mix them well and leave them for about 15 minutes to gel before eating it.
The gel coating that forms around chia seeds when they come in contact with liquids helps waste move through your digestive tract.
Be careful not to eat too many chia seeds at once. If you have never eaten them before, start by eating 3 – 5 seeds, gradually increasing them to a teaspoon. Since chia seeds absorb a lot of water, it is important that you stay sufficiently hydrated when eating them.
4. Whole Grains
Unrefined, unprocessed and whole grains are a great source of fiber. When grains undergo processing and become refined, they lose most of their nutrients including fiber.
Instead of being a healthy food item, they become cause of many problems like obesity, high cholesterol, sugar spike and constipation.
Shifting to whole grains from refined grains won’t just help with you low fiber problem but also be beneficial to you overall.
So, instead of eating white bread for your breakfast, go for whole grain bread which contains 4 grams of fiber compared to just 2 grams. Opt for brown rice, which contains 3.5 grams of fiber instead of white rice which has just 1.4 grams.
Small changes in your daily diet will eventually lead to better and healthier diet for your body.
Beans are part of legume food category and 1 cup of any beans, boiled, contains about 15 grams of fiber. These include lima beans, black beans, kidney beans and black eyed beans.
Beans are a versatile food item and can be added into your diet in a variety of ways. In fact, many global cuisines contain beans due to their versatility and nutritional benefits.
You can sprinkle them on salads, season black beans with olive oil, garlic and cumin to eat as a side dish or use beans to make a dip.
Kidney beans or black beans can also be added to Mexican eggs. Add them when the eggs are almost done and mix them up till the eggs are firm. Or just add cooked beans to omelet.
If you fancy a Mediterranean dish, add cooked white kidney beans to a tomato based tomato sauce. The possibilities are endless.
You might have heard about carrot being good for eyes when you were kid, as a result of which you probably stuffed yourself a lot with it.
While it may or may not have worked for your eyes, carrots are definitely good for your digestive system.
This Bugs Bunny favorite is a great vegetable to snack on when you are craving sugary or junk food in between breakfast and lunch or post – lunch.
Not only are they a great source of fiber – a 100-gram serving of raw baby carrots has 2.9 grams of fiber, and a half cup of cooked carrots has 2.3 grams – they are also rich in beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants.
7. Lentils (Pulses)
Lentils are the stars of any kitchen – they take less time to cook, are delicious to taste and contain loads of nutrients like proteins, fiber, vitamin A, B, C and D, minerals like iron and magnesium, with minimal or no fat and cholesterol content.
You can make lentil soups, dals, stews, dips and spreads. You can also eat them in breakfast by making porridge of red lentils. They are also a good substitute for beef due their meaty taste.
Or, the next time you go to an Indian restaurant, go for dal instead of lamb curry. You get to experience Indian cuisine’s spicy taste while also providing your body with healthy diet.
Sweet, juicy and rich flavored pears are much loved fruits, especially by babies and children. A good source of fiber, 100 gram of pears provide 3.1 gram of fiber, regular eating of this fruits may aid in preventing colon cancer.
Apart from fiber, they are also packed with nutrients such as antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, which are necessary for optimum health. minerals such as copper, iron, potassium, manganese and magnesium as well as B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin and vitamin B-6 along with vitamin A and C.
You can snack on them by keeping a pear along with your office lunch. Put them in salads to make sweet salads, make pear dips or make a sweet potato pear soup.
You can also give them to babies if they seem to be suffering from digestive problems. Cut out a few strips of pear and let the babies suck on it.
9. Brussels Sprouts
1 cup of Brussels sprouts contains 4.1 grams of fiber. Each sprout contains 0.5 grams of fiber, so it all just adds up.
They are rich with anti – oxidants and contain anti – inflammatory properties, which makes them one of the better fiber rich foods. Brussels sprouts can also be used in a detox and may help avoid certain cancers.
They are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are a very good source of numerous nutrients including folate, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, copper, vitamin B1, phosphorus, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.
You can make grilled garlic cheese with Brussels sprouts, combine sprouts with creamy dips or just make a raw avocado and Brussels sprouts salad.
A 100 gram serving of coconut contains 9 grams of dietary fiber. Apart from fiber, coconuts contain vitamins C, E, and B, minerals including iron, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous. Coconut milk is lactose free so it can be used as an alternate to cow’s milk by lactose intolerant people.
Coconut is a delicious fruit, best eaten raw. Apart from eating it raw, you can drink coconut water, use coconut oil for sautéing, cut up coconut in shred and then toast it to add it to your yogurt or granola for a crunchy texture.
You can also add coconut milk to make smoothies, coffee or curry. You might want to try gluten free pancakes by using coconut and banana to make pan cake batter.