Fiber: Why it's Important and How to Get Enough
Did you know that more than 95% of Americans aren’t getting enough fiber in their diets? Dietary fiber is an important nutrient that helps promote gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health in your body. Incorporating enough fiber in your diet can help stabilize your blood glucose. Think about when you eat something sweet and sugary like candy--you feel a sugar high and then you crash. However, when you eat something like an apple or banana, which contain sugar as well as a healthy amount of fiber, your energy is more consistent over time. You will also feel more satisfied and full after a meal that is high in fiber because it slows down your digestion. Dietary fiber also helps lower your blood pressure and will help get things moving if you’re feeling backed up and bloated.
The recommendation for daily fiber intake is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. If you’re wondering how you can incorporate more fiber rich sources into your diet here are some ideas:
Keep lots of fruits, veggies and nuts around the house for snacking. Keep a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts around so that it’s easy to grab a fiber-rich snack like an apple, avocado, carrots or a handful of almonds when you get that midafternoon hunger pang. It’s also important to incorporate variety in your fiber sources because we need both soluble and insoluble fiber in our diets.
Start your day with a high fiber smoothie bowl. One of my favorite things to enjoy for breakfast is a smoothie bowl that incorporates a handful of frozen fruit, greens (spinach, kale sometimes even zucchini) and a healthy fat like nut butter. Add your favorite milk and top with chopped bananas, strawberries and some granola and you’ll feel satisfied for hours!
Add beans or legumes to your salad. A great addition to your lunchtime salad that may not always be top of mind is beans and legumes. They’re super easy (get them in a can and just drain and rinse) and will take your salad to the next level. Try garbanzo beans, black beans or lentils--they all taste amazing and are sure to fill you up.
Don’t forget veggies at dinner. Since there is no fiber found in meats or dairy, the only place to get it is from plant foods. Make sure half of your plate is filled with vegetables and any bread or grains you choose are whole grain to get the most fiber from your meal. Also, consider trying different types of grains like bulgur, buckwheat or farro in place of rice.
Add some delicious fruits at dessert. Some of the best desserts incorporate fruit. In the summertime, is there anything better than a grilled peach with a scoop of vanilla ice cream? In the Fall, I love to cozy up with some warm apple crisp. Chopped strawberries with a sprinkle of sugar is an amazing dessert too!