Planning High Fiber Meals: The Fiber Factor
We’ve all heard that eating more fiber is good for us. It helps lower blood cholesterol levels and regulates blood sugar. And eating fiber-rich food fills you up, not out—a real plus for your weight loss efforts. Selecting tasty foods that provide fiber isn't difficult. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, so you have lots to choose from!
Here are some ideas for upping your fiber:
Eat the whole thing. Choose breads, crackers and cereals made from 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 something different. 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!
Article copyright © 2011 American Heart Association. This article is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.