Eating More Fiber For Better Health
Fiber is often associated with aiding in healthy bowel movements. In particular, for people that struggle with either constipation or diarrhea, a lack of fiber can often be the direct link. But fiber does so much more than aid in digestive health. Specifically, fiber is linked to a reduced risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. And in some cases, fiber can even aid in weight loss. So, if the previous benefits sound appealing, think about adding fiber to a balanced diet in the following ways.
1. Prioritize vegetables in each meal
When most people think about what to eat, proteins or meats tend to be the priority, followed by sides. But to get more fiber, consider thinking about which veggies to eat first, and then complement that choice with the main protein or entree in a dish. Ideally, focus on non-starchy vegetables because of the higher fiber content. Additionally, non-starchy vegetables tend to be lower in calories. Once the meal is set, focus on eating the vegetables before moving on to the other foods on the dish. Studies have shown that adding a salad or vegetable soup before a meal not only improves fiber intake but reduces the total calories consumed at a time.
2. Snack on some popcorn
Most people don’t think of popcorn as a healthy treat, but the snack is derived from corn, a whole grain. Every ounce of corn equals four grams of fiber, which translates to three cups of popcorn. The caveat though, is that the popcorn shouldn’t be drowning in butter and salt. To get the best benefits, opt for air-popped popcorn or popcorn that’s popped in a brown bag, and go easy on the seasonings.
3. Opt for whole grains over refined grains
One of the best ways to not only increase fiber intake but reduce the consumption of empty calories is by picking whole grains instead of refined grains. Refined grains include options such as white flour and white rice. While tasty, refined grains are lower in nutrients than whole grains. In contrast, whole grains are nutrient-dense since many of the key components aren’t removed during the production process. Begin by incorporating whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, barley, buckwheat, bulgar, and quinoa.
4. Make a snack out of nuts and seeds
Instead of grabbing for a bag of chips when in-between meal hunger strikes, opt for a healthier pick with nuts and seeds. Popular nuts such as walnuts, Brazilian nuts, cashews, almonds, and even pecans are full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats that the body needs. Try to avoid sugar-coated or flavored nuts because of the risk of added empty calories. As an alternative, focus instead on whole or roasted nuts.
Adding fiber is easy
Adjusting a diet to be rich in fiber doesn’t have to be difficult or flavorless. Rather than looking at fiber as a daunting task, consider incorporating small but significant changes such as swapping out snack choices and rethinking meal planning. People interested in more information on how to add more fiber to a daily diet should talk with a physician or dietitian for tips to make the process easier.