Posts Tagged ‘Dietary fiber’

Many Americans know something about vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. What do we know about fiber? Health professionals may disagree as to whether fiber is a nutrient, but it is essential to health. A healthy diet includes sufficient fiber, a form of carbohydrate that differs in significant ways from other types of this nutrient. The complexity of the sugar molecules linked together causes fiber to be more difficult to digest.

Fiber comes from plant sources, primarily whole grains which have twice the amount of fiber as refined grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Unpeeled fruits and vegetables also provide more fiber as well as other nutrients than those that have been peeled.

Fiber is divided into two types, soluble and insoluble. Dietary sources are basically the same. Soluble fiber is water solvent and aids in digestion by causing carbohydrate and other nutrients to be absorbed more slowly. This helps control blood sugar levels, a positive for those with diabetes. It also plays a significant role in lowering blood levels of LDL cholesterol because it interferes with absorption of fat and cholesterol.

Insoluble fiber provides bulk in the diet which in turn helps stimulate movement through the intestinal tract to regulate waste removal from the body. Because both soluble and insoluble fiber cause a feeling of fullness, they can be beneficial in weight loss. Those who consume higher fiber diets usually eat less and remain free from hunger for longer periods of time.

How much fiber do we need? Requirements may vary, but most women need at least 30 grams and men 38 grams per day. After age fifty, both need less. Women need about 21 grams and men 30 grams of fiber per day.

To avoid abdominal distress, it is best to increase fiber intake slowly. Gradually change from a low-fiber to a high-fiber diet. The following are suggested ways to increase fiber in our diets:

  • Switch from refined foods to those made with whole grains.
  • Add beans to soups, salad and side dishes.
  • Add unsalted nuts and seeds to foods and use as snacks in place of sweets.
  • Add fruits and/or vegetables to cereals, salads, and other foods.
  • Add vegetables (such as zucchini and carrots) into main dishes like lasagna, meatloaf, stews, and more.
  • Keep fresh fruits and vegetables prepared and refrigerated for quick snacks.

When buying foods, check labels of similar products to determine those with higher fiber content. Increasing fiber in the diet isn’t difficult. It will pay dividends in better health and well-being.



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Quinoa is not a grass, but its seeds have been...

Quinoa is not a grass, but its seeds have been eaten for 6000 years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new grain has found favor among food aficionados. Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, actually isn’t new nor is it a grain. Harvested in South America for thousands of years, the Incas referred to it as the “mother of all grains.”

Technically, it is the seed of the goosefoot plant, in the same family as spinach, with leaves shaped like a goose foot.

Quinoa ranges in color from yellow or white to dark brown. Use it in place of rice in casseroles or as a side dish. The nutty flavor blends well with cinnamon or nutmeg along with brown sugar or maple syrup for a tasty breakfast.

I tried the white quinoa. After a good rinse, I soaked overnight (although unncessary), rinsed again, then cooked it the same as regular rice—one part quinoa to two parts water. Like rice, I brought the water to a boil, added the seeds, and cooked about 20 minutes.

The protein content of quinoa is almost twice that of corn or rice. Other nutritional attributes include high fiber, B-vitamins, iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, and other minerals. Additionally, it is gluten-free.

The unwashed product has a coating called saponin which has a bitter taste and can result in digestive problems. Rinse thoroughly to remove. Although available prewashed, consider another rinse.

Check your grocery shelves for this new “ancient” cereal. Find tasty recipes at these sites and others.



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