Whole, fibrous foods are a weight loss favorite because they are good for the pocketbook, waistline, and your body. Whole foods that are packed with fiber are less expensive when compared with their fortified food counterparts. For example, a cooked cup of barley costs pennies per serving and has 6 grams of fiber. In contrast, the leading fiber-filled granola bar can cost about 60 cents apiece and have 9 grams of fiber. Not only is the granola bar more expensive, gram for gram, but that bar is merely a snack whereas the barley is half a meal. As a bonus, the whole grain barley is also packed with phytochemicals, fiber, and protein.
This is where your waistline and health come into play. Foods higher in fiber make you feel fuller on fewer calories. Whole foods such as beans, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of healthy calories and fiber.
Fiber also works as a scrub brush to clear out natural byproducts of our body’s metabolic process and unneeded cholesterol in our blood. Fiber adds bulk to our poop thus helping dispose all the toxins and dead cells from the colon. For various (and more technical) reasons, eating more fiber has shown to help decrease the chances of colon cancer. How much fiber do we need to consume in a day to enjoy the full range of benefits? It is recommended that men need 30-38 grams a day, and women need 21-25 grams a day.
An easy step to increase your fiber intake is to focus on getting 5 to 9 fruits and vegetables a day in your diet. Here are a few more quick swaps and additions you can make to your daily diet to increase your fiber:
- Flax and Chia seeds: Great to add to any breakfast cereal. If the nutty flavor of flax is not your favorite try chia. Chia is more gelatinous so adding it to oatmeal is a good fit. Chia can also go undetected for children as it blends so well with the oatmeal! Three Tbsp of chia contains 14 grams of fiber and that is more than the average American eats in a day (12 grams).
- Beans and legumes: Wash-off dry beans, place in a slow cooker, and cover with 2 inches of water or vegetable broth. Add seasonings as desired. I like the seasonings from Chef Paul Prudhomme or Mrs. Dash because they are quick salt-free spice mixes. Cook on low for 8 hours and have bean soup served with/over whole grain or corn bread. A cup of black beans will add 15 grams of fiber to your day.
- Wheat berries: Eat hot or cold. This is a wheat product that has a clean nutty flavor. Eat as a side salad (hyperlink to
http://nourishnetwork.com/2009/08/25/get-a-new-grain-wheat-berries/) or alone in place of rice. A half a cup serving has 4 grams of fiber.
- Bulgur: Meat is void of fiber so add some to your dish! Add cooked bulgur to your meat loaf. Try adding dry bulgur your taco mix when you add your water and seasoning. Bulgur picks up any flavor you combine it with and has a similar texture to the ground beef. Add a cup of bulgur to dinner and this will add 8 grams of fiber.
- Amaranth- Pop like old-fashioned popcorn on the stovetop. I recommend to only popping 3-4 Tablespoons at a time. It will “pop” and turn from the light brown color to white. Eat as a snack or sprinkle on your salad to add a fibrous crunch. A nice sprinkle of about 4 Tbsp of popped amaranth to your salad will offer about 5 grams of fiber to your meal.