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In the Spotlight

Friday, May 4, 2012

Eat more fiber!


Benefits of a high-fiber diet
       Normalizes bowel movements. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may also help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool. For some, fiber may provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome.
      Helps maintain bowel integrity and health. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids, and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
      Lowers blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels. Epidemiologic studies have shown that increased fiber in the diet can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, which is also protective to heart health.

Helps control blood sugar levels. Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, can slow the absorption of sugar, which for people with diabetes can help improve blood sugar levels. A diet that includes insoluble fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
      Aids in weight loss. High-fiber foods generally require more chewing time, which gives your body time to register when you're no longer hungry, so you're less likely to overeat. Also, a high-fiber diet tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time. And high-fiber diets also tend to be less "energy dense," which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
High-fiber foods
Women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day.

Fruits

Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*
Raspberries
1 cup
8.0
Pear, with skin
1 medium
5.5
Apple, with skin
1 medium
4.4
Strawberries (halves)
1 1/4 cup
3.8
Banana
1 medium
3.1
Orange
1 medium
3.1
Figs, dried
2 medium
1.6
Raisins
2 tablespoons
1.0

Grains, cereal & pasta

Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*
Spaghetti, whole-wheat, cooked
1 cup
6.2
Barley, pearled, cooked
1 cup
6.0
Bran flakes
3/4 cup
5.3
Oat bran muffin
1 medium
5.2
Oatmeal, quick, regular or instant, cooked
1 cup
4.0
Popcorn, air-popped
3 cups
3.5
Brown rice, cooked
1 cup
3.5
Bread, rye
1 slice
1.9
Bread, whole-wheat or multigrain
1 slice
1.9

Legumes, nuts & seeds

Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*
Split peas, cooked
1 cup
16.3
Lentils, cooked
1 cup
15.6
Black beans, cooked
1 cup
15.0
Lima beans, cooked
1 cup
13.2
Baked beans, vegetarian, canned, cooked
1 cup
10.4
Sunflower seed kernels
1/4 cup
3.9
Almonds
1 ounce (23 nuts)
3.5
Pistachio nuts
1 ounce (49 nuts)
2.9
Pecans
1 ounce (19 halves)
2.7

Vegetables

Serving size

Total fiber (grams)*
Artichoke, cooked
1 medium
10.3
Peas, cooked
1 cup
8.8
Broccoli, boiled
1 cup
5.1
Turnip greens, boiled
1 cup
5.0
Sweet corn, cooked
1 cup
4.2
Brussels sprouts, cooked
1 cup
4.1
Potato, with skin, baked
1 medium
2.9
Tomato paste
1/4 cup
2.7
Carrot, raw
1 medium
1.7
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