Not all carbohydrates are considered equal.
In fact, one very important carbohydrate, fiber, is something that most people should have more of in their diet. So whether you are following a low carbohydrate diet or not, fiber should be on the menu.
Studies show that eating at least 25 grams of fiber each day can help lower your risk of heart attack and lower your cholesterol. Fiber also aids in digestion and helps keep people from becoming constipated.
There are two different types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber turns into a gel and mixes with liquid when it is ingested and passes through the body. Insoluble passes through the large intestines as is, without mixing with liquid.
Both types are indigestible, which means they don’t break down, they have no affect on blood sugar levels (good news for diabetics) and they don’t add to the overall carb count in the foods you eat. In other words, when reading the label, subtract the carbohydrates in fiber from the overall carbohydrate count in a particular food to find out the total “digestable” carbs.
You’d think that getting enough fiber in your diet would be an easy thing. After all, we’re only talking about 25 grams. Unfortunately, if you’re on a high protein, high dairy diet, or you just don’t enjoy fruits and vegetables, you may not be getting enough fiber to handle what your body needs.
Here are some tips for getting more fiber in your diet without having to completely change the way you eat!
- Fruits – Instead of grabbing a package of cookies or chips, which are high in carbohydrates you don’t really need, fill your refrigerator produce draw with apples, pears and other fruits high in fiber. Don’t take out the vegetable peeler and cut away the skin though. The skin of the fruit has a high fiber content that helps get rid of toxins quickly in the intestines. Strawberries, raisins and oranges are also full of fiber and are tasty snacks, too.
- Go Green – I’m talking about green vegetables. Some vegetables, such as green beans and dark leafy vegetables have a high content of insoluble fiber.
- Get Nuts – Seeds and nuts of all kinds have a high amount of fiber in them. In fact, many nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, have a fiber count that amounts to the entire carbohydrate total. This means they’re a zero carb snack! The same is true for flax seed. But keep in mind that when you eat whole seeds, the body can’t absorb the nutrients they have in them. If you do add flax seed to your food, try using ground flax seed meal. A few spoonfuls in your cereal or yogurt will add a nutty flavor.
- Buy Whole Grains – Instead of buying potato bread or breads with bleached white flour, reach for the whole grain or oat breads. See if your grocery store sells whole grain pasta and cereal. Adding some raisins or fresh strawberries to your cereal could give you as much as 15 grams of fiber before you even walk out the door to start your day!
- Choose your snacks wisely – It’s easy to grab a cookie or a piece of cake when you have the munchies, but there are other snacks that are healthy and full of fiber. Did you know that 3 cups of popcorn have 7.5 grams of fiber? Take it easy on the butter and you have a healthy snack.
Just a few simple changes to your normal eating habits by adding more fiber to your diet can make a world of difference to your health.
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