Figuring out Fiber
Have you ever noticed those commercials all about fiber or food packaging claiming “high in fiber” or “excellent source of fiber?” Read on to find out what fiber is and why it matters to your every day diet.
What is fiber?
Fiber is found in all plants that eaten as food, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas,
and grains. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate (carb) that our bodies can’t digest. You
can only get fiber in your diet by eating plant foods.
Why do I need fiber?
Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. It performs multiple functions in our
bodies. Fiber can help prevent constipation and keeps your digestion moving along.
Fiber-rich foods tend to be more filling than foods that are low in fiber and are
often lower in calories.
Am I getting enough fiber?
Women need about 25 grams of fiber per day and men need about 38 grams. Children ages
5 – 15 benefit from fiber as well and should get about 10 – 25 each day.
How can I get more fiber in my diet?
Here are 5 simple ways to increase your fiber intake throughout the day.
- Choose brown rice and whole-grain foods.
- Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juices.
- Choose whole-grain cereals or oatmeal over processed breakfast foods.
- Eat raw vegetables.
- Replace meat with beans 2-3 times a week in the meals you eat.
Please note, as you increase your fiber, increase your water intake to prevent bloating,
gas, and other unpleasant side effects. Here's a super simple recipe to help you get
more fiber each day.
Cheesy Lentil and Bean Casserole
Beans, peas, and lentils are low in fat and an excellent source of fiber. Here is a recipe that uses both lentils and beans.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup each chopped celery and onion (or other veggies of choice)
- 1 (12-14oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup cooked or canned lentil
- 1 can kidney beans or pinto beans, drained (low-sodium preferred)
- 1 teaspoon each rosemary and thyme
- ½ teaspoon each sugar, garlic powder, and black pepper
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice)
- Sauté onion and celery in pan on medium-high heat until tender.
- Stir in remaining ingredients except for the cheese. Allow to simmer uncovered on low for 20 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Spray small casserole dish with cooking spray and pour mixture in.
- Spread mixture evenly then top with shredded cheese. (Broil for three minutes only.)