Boosting your intake of fiber in your diet should be tops on the list of anyone hoping to improve their nutritional profile and will absolutely keep you on a regular, first name basis with a certain porcelain object in your bathroom, if you know what I mean. This is important information for anyone hoping to avoid colon cancer, which inflicts more women than breast cancer every year, believe it or not.
There is another important component to the fiber equation and that is water. Think for a moment about your garbage disposal. In order to get it flushed out, you must run the water before turning on the switch. This is how you get things moving and flushed out. Your own personal waste disposal isn’t much different–you need both to make things work: fiber and water.
Fiber is much more than your basic oat bran or whole wheat bread. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber, very easily defined–one is soluble in water and the other is not. And in order to function optimally, we absolutely need both.
Most Americans only get 7 to 8 grams of fiber a day in their diets. But the National Cancer Institute recommends 20-35 grams of fiber daily—a big difference. So then, how do you get the fiber in?
A part of the solution can be as simple as changing out the white stuff for the brown stuff: out with the white bread, white rice and white flour and in with the whole wheat bread, brown rice and whole wheat flour. This will pay off in huge dividends—you cannot afford to eat the white stuff. It’s like pouring white glue into your intestines—everything gets stuck. Not only are you not getting the nutrients you need from your food, but you’re also slowing digestion way down and setting yourself up for constipation and other fun stuff.
So bulk up—with fiber, that is. Here are the Top Ten Fiber Foods to get you going (and for some of you, that may mean literally) Don’t forget the water!
1. Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit. These nutritional wunderkinds are filled to overflowing with fiber. One cup of black beans has over 19 grams of fiber. Worried about the “soundtrack” that comes with them? Try a little bit of ginger in your beans—for some, this turns off the music fast.
2. Bran New for You. Bran cereal is fine, but bran muffins are better! You can get 4 grams of fiber in the average muffin. Try my recipe—you’ll love the nutty taste.
3. Peas on Earth. Just a half a cup will help fill out your fiber quota with over 9 grams of fiber.
4. It’s the Corniest. Corn on the cob is gloriously in season right now and at 5 grams of fiber per ear, why not eat two ears and get half your fiber for the day?
5. Berry, Berry Good. A cup of strawberries will get you about 3 grams of fiber, but a mere half cup of raspberries have over 4 grams per serving.
6. An Eye for an Eye. Potatoes are pretty potent in the fiber department—5 grams per medium baked potato. But be sure to eat the skin—the jacket is one of the reasons why the fiber count is so high.
7. Give a Fig. Figs and other dried fruits, rate high in fiber attributes—3 dried figs equal 10 1/2 grams of fiber while the ol’ stand by prunes only figure in at about 2 grams of fiber for the same amount of fruit.
8. Broccoli Bites. 3/4 of a cup of cooked broccoli has 7 grams of fiber. Good old broccoli. Is there nothing it can’t do? If it could iron, it’d be the perfect spouse.
9. You Really Oater. That stick-to-your-ribs porridge your mom made you on winter mornings has over 7 grams of fiber in a nice big 3/4 cup serving.
10.An Apple a Day. One medium apple has 4 grams of fiber in the form of pectin. It’s important to get a wide assortment of fibers in your diet and apples are the best in that regard.
Here’s a wonderful fiber-filled recipe to get you started.
Honey Bran Muffins
Makes a dozen
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (available in health food stores)
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup oat bran
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 slightly beaten eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup oil
Spray muffin pan with vegetable cooking spray or line with paper baking cups. Stir together all dry ingredients. Combine eggs, buttermilk, honey and oil. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir until moistened. Fold in raisins. Fill muffin pan 2/3 full. Bake in a 400 degrees oven for 15-20 minutes.
Per Serving: 165 Calories; 6g Fat; 4g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 31mg Cholesterol; 168mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.