Boost Your Intake of Fiber
Americans don’t seem to be getting enough fiber in their diets. I know it’s hard with everyone always on the run to eat just right. However, it’s important for our bodies and to set a good example for our children especially while they are young. Instill good eating habits at an early age and they will carry over for a lifetime.
My family tries very hard to eat a low fat, high fiber diet. Of course I love to cook so when I prepare our meals I will always opt for fresh ingredients and if using rice I always use whole grain or brown. White isn’t even an option anymore. However it goes far beyond that.
It’s important to eat foods containing naturally occurring fiber as often as you can. Eating “fiber-fortified” foods is not the same as eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Though it’s quick and easy to grab a high-fiber breakfast bar and a fiber-fortified yogurt, you’re not getting the same benefits as you would from a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal with berries and milk. Not to mention it will help to lower your cholesterol.
Always check the ingredient list on the package. Don’t rely on what’s printed on the front of the packaging. A claim that a product is “made with five grams of whole grain per serving” is not the same as containing five grams of fiber if the grain is mostly refined white flour.
Instead, fill your grocery cart with fiber-rich foods for the best health benefits. Some good choices include:
• Dried beans and quick-cooking legumes such as lentils
• Fresh fruits and vegetables
• Whole grains such as brown rice, farro and rolled oats
• 100 percent whole-wheat bread
• 100 percent whole-grain pasta
• Nuts and seeds
If you opt for fiber-fortified foods, such as some yogurts and even some bottled waters, it’s important to be educated about food labels. Added fiber is not necessarily the same as naturally present fiber.
Isolated fibers, or fibers that are added to processed foods, include:
• Inulin (also called chicory root extract)
• Oat, soy and corn fiber
• Corn and wheat starch
• Gums (arabic, guar, acacia)
Research has confirmed the benefits of real fiber-rich plant foods — whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes. Plus you get the added health benefits of other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients naturally present.
You can add fiber to your diet like whole grain pasta – but be careful!
• Check for the “100% Whole Grain” stamp from the Whole Grains Council. This certifies that all the grain is whole and the contents contain at least 16 grams of whole grains per serving.
• Look for the phrase “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain.” Including the words “whole grain” or “wheat” on the label may be misleading because the product may contain mostly refined grain with a little whole grain.
• Check the ingredients label for “whole wheat flour” or “whole durum wheat flour.” “Semolina” or “durum wheat flour” minus the word “whole” makes it a refined grain.
• Don’t assume that health food brands or organic pastas are always whole grain.
Always read the fine print in the ingredients section to be sure that what’s posted on the front of the packaging is what you’re actually getting.
Eating a healthy diet isn’t impossible. If you take the time to plan ahead preparing healthy meals will come easy.
Below is a recipe that’s not only high in fiber, it’s low in cholesterol, low in saturated fats, high in calcium and potassium and it’s heart healthy. It sounds like a winner to me!
Lemony Lentil Salad with Salmon
Salmon and lentils are a familiar combo in French bistro cooking; here they combine in a quick and easy salad. For the best presentation, flake the salmon with a fork, then stir gently into the salad to keep it in chunks, not tiny bits.
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup diced seedless cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 15-ounce cans lentils, rinsed, or 3 cups cooked brown or green lentils (see Tip)
2 7-ounce cans salmon , drained and flaked, or 1 1/2 cups flaked cooked salmon
1.Whisk lemon juice, dill, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add bell pepper, cucumber, onion, lentils and salmon; toss to coat.
Tips & Notes
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
To cook lentils: Place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes for green lentils and 30 minutes for brown. Drain and rinse under cold water.
Per serving: 354 calories; 18 g fat (3 g sat, 12 g mono); 31 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 24 g protein; 9 g fiber; 194 mg sodium; 743 mg potassium.
Vitamin C (80% daily value), Folate (49% dv), Selenium (40% dv), Iron (25% dv), Potassium (21% dv), Calcium (20% dv).
1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1/2 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 2 1/2 fat