If you’re looking for ways to add fiber to your diet, look no further. Fiber is soluble and insoluble plant materials that the human body needs. Fiber is the part of plants that our bodies cannot fully digest or use for fuel. So why is it so important?
Fiber helps move food through the digestive tract, thereby helping maintain regular bowel movements and reducing constipation. Fiber is almost like a brush that collects toxins and unhealthy materials and helps get rid of them as it moves through your body. High fiber meals are more satisfying because fiber takes up room in our stomach and adds bulk without adding extra calories. Foods that are high in fiber are often high in vitamins and minerals, so eating fiber-rich foods often means eating nutritiously. Check out these five easy ways to increase your fiber intake.
1. Salad with Every Meal
Fresh vegetable salads are a sure-fire way to get more fiber into your diet. Because most vegetables are low in calories, salads can be added to your existing meals without adding a lot of calories. Mix and match any of the following ingredients to create a delicious, high-fiber salad:
- Green, red or romaine lettuce (iceberg is the least nutritious lettuce, but can also work)
- Artichoke hearts (in water)
- Hearts of palm
- Green onions
- Green beans
- Summer squash.
Top with low-calorie dressing and stay clear of fattening cheeses to create a high-fiber, low-calorie snack.
2. Leave the Skin On
The skin of fruits and vegetables is often where a lot of the fiber is found. Keep the skin on apples, pears, potatoes, yams, summer squashes, eggplant and other edible treats to increase your fiber intake. Mix together a skin-on-fruit salad to eat with your breakfast for a sweet and healthy fiber addition.
3. Whole Grains
When picking out breads, pastas and other grain-based foods, choose items made with whole grains like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, quinoa and oats. Stay away from bleached, processed white foods like white bread, regular pasta and most cakes. Bakers can replace half the white, all-purpose flour in most bread and cookie recipes with whole wheat flour.
4. Add Vegetables to Your Favorite Meals
Vegetables don’t always have to be the side dish at dinner time. Consider meals where vegetables make up the bulk of the recipe, like eggplant Parmesan or vegetable curry. To add fiber to some of your family’s favorite dishes, simply add some fiber-rich veggies to the recipes you already know. For example, toss a few handfuls of fresh spinach into your spaghetti sauce, or top burgers with sauteed mushrooms, onions and peppers.
5. Eat Dessert
Desserts can be a great source of fiber as long as they include fruit. Top fresh berries with whipped cream. Smear peanut butter on celery sticks and dot with raisins to make “Ants on a Log.” Just pick a delicious fruit-based dessert and dig in!