If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol or blood sugar levels, achieve a healthy weight, or regulate your bowel movements, dietary fiber could be your answer. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. While most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar. Instead it passes through the body undigested. And although we don’t digest or absorb fiber, it offers our body many health benefits related to digestion, cardiovascular health, weight management, and diabetes care.
Fiber helps with laxation by binding with fluid in the GI tract, creating bulk which can help relieve constipation. Fiber is able to selectively stimulate the growth of intestinal bacteria associated with health and well-being. Consumption of fiber can help reduce blood pressure, lipids, and cholesterol. Fiber helps with regulating hunger by making the body feel fuller, lowering energy consumption. Also, fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check.
Know Your Fiber Sources
Fiber can be found in the skins of fruits, vegetables, and legumes and the whole grains in starches. Adults need at least 20 grams of fiber each day but most consume less than 15 grams each day.
Tips For Increasing Fiber
Start the day with a higher fiber breakfast such as a high fiber cereal and a medium-sized banana. Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices. Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with brown rice and whole grain products. Snack on raw vegetables instead of chips or crackers. Add or substitute beans and legumes to entrees or soups two to three times per week.
This summer prepare a black bean salsa for a high fiber snack and use corn tortilla chips for additional fiber. Place all ingredients below in a large bowl, stir to combine, and enjoy!
Black Bean Salsa Recipe
- 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cups seeded and chopped Roma tomatoes
- 1 seeded and chopped jalapeno
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil