We’ve all heard that eating more fiber is good for us.The American Heart Association recommends a healthy dietary pattern that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, fish, skinless poultry, nuts, and fat-free/low-fat dairy products, and limits sodium, saturated fat, red meat and added sugars. 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 outer coat (bran), which removes some of the important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including fiber. Enriched grains have some of the vitamins and minerals added back. 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 whole grain cereal or oatmeal. Add some bananas, berries or other fruit. Or, crush up that tasty cereal and mix it with yogurt. Whip up a breakfast smoothie in your blender with frozen fruit and low-fat 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 nuts or pumpkin seeds is a portable, healthy snack star!
Article copyright © 2015 American Heart Association. This recipe/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.
Last reviewed 1/2015