In our previous post on fiber and cholesterol reduction I shared with you how fiber can naturally help most people experience cholesterol reduction. In this post I’ll help you discover some farily simple ways to increase your fiber intake.
3 Simple Steps to Increasing Your Fiber Intake!
When most people hear the concept of increasing their fiber intake they immediately think about eating multigrain breads and a lot of lettuce. This is not what their culinary taste buds are going to get excited about. Plus, it’s not the most effective way to implement this change in lifestyle.
The following 3 steps are realistic so that everyone can achieve the goal of increased fiber intake and be able to do it long term. These steps will help improve your overall health and be an effective strategy for cholesterol reduction.
Step 1- Examine Your Diet. By making some simple changes you can dramatically increase your fiber intake while still enjoying your same meals.
Bread: 1 slice of white bread has .6 grams of fiber where as 1 slice of whole-wheat bread has 1.9 grams of fiber. Figuring two slices of bread for your sandwich, you just increased your fiber intake from 1.2 grams to 3.8 grams. For a creative change to the normal sandwich try Flatout Wraps. Their Harvest Wheat has 5 grams of fiber per wrap and some of their wraps can go as high as 9 grams of fiber. Go to www.flatoutbread.com for recipes and store locations. They even have Gluten Free choices.
Cereal: Maybe you’re a Wheaties type of person which has 2 grams of fiber per 1 serving. By switching to 100% All Bran you just increased you fiber intake to 17.6 grams. Too much fiber and not enough taste than try Raisin Bran at 5 grams per 1 cup.
Pasta: 1 cup of uncooked pasta typically has 2 grams of fiber. Switching to 1 cup of Barilla PLUS pasta and your fiber intake increased to 7 grams. Add a ½ cup of tomato sauce on top and you added another 3 grams of fiber. What would have been a “5 grams of fiber” meal has now become “10 grams of fiber” with no loss in taste. For more information about recipes and store locations go to www.barillaus.com .
Rice: 1 cup of cooked white rice is 2 grams of fiber. Switching to 1 cup of cooked brown rice and you’re at 5.5 grams.
Vegetable: Some people think they need to add broccoli or cauliflower to their meal to increase their fiber and it turns them off. Broccoli has 3.0 grams of fiber per cup, cauliflower only has 2.5 grams of fiber per cup. Switching to 1 cup of corn gives you 4.0 grams of fiber, 1 cup of green beans is 4.2 grams of fiber, and 1 cup of peas is 7.0 grams of fiber. Instead of having a salad which has 1 cup of iceberg lettuce at .7 grams of fiber you could skip the salad and add a vegetable that gives you 8 times the value.
Step 2- Add Fiber. There are a couple of simple ways to add fiber to your daily intake without adding loads of calories. This helps control your weight which can also be a factor in cholesterol reduction.
Breakfast: A medium banana added to the top of your cereal is 3 grams of fiber. A cup of strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries would range from 3.3 to 4.5 grams of fiber.
Snack: Instead of going to the vending machine for a candy bar or bag of chips why not eat a medium pear at 88 calories and 5 grams of fiber or a large apple at 90 calories and 4.5 grams of fiber.
Meal: Maybe it’s time to try some new additions to your meal like 1 cup of lentils or black beans at 15 grams of fiber, baked beans at 10.4 grams of fiber, 1 medium baked potato with the skin at 5.0 grams of fiber, or a sweet potato without the skin at 5.5 grams of fiber.
By incorporating some of the changes and additions we’ve looked at you could see the following improvements in your overall fiber intake:
A breakfast of cereal and toast could go from 1 to 3 grams to 9 to 21 grams of fiber.
A mid-morning snack could go from 1 gram to 4 to 5 grams of fiber.
A sandwich at lunch could go from 1 to 3 grams to 4 to 15 grams of fiber.
A mid-afternoon snack could go from 1 gram of fiber to 4 to 5 grams.
A dinner meal could go from 5 to 7 grams of fiber to 9 to 15 grams.
Just by making some simple changes in your food selection you could go from 9-15 grams of fiber to 30-61 grams. Just think of the impact this would have on your overall health while you’re reducing your LDL cholesterol.
Step 3 – Take a Supplement. There is some controversy in the use of fiber supplements so I add this step with caution. If you’re not willing to make the simple changes I have outlined in Steps 1 & 2, then talk with a qualified physician who can give you some guidance in this area.
Typically, one tablespoon of an over-the-counter fiber supplement has 15 grams of fiber. Most people take their supplement at night after their evening meal.
Supplements are not meant to be used as a laxative, which is where most of the controversy occurs. They are only meant to be used as a supplement for those who are not getting the proper amount of fiber from their diet.
Two Important Notes on Fiber Intake!
Proper water intake is fundamental to this whole process. On the one hand, fiber can be extremely useful in preventing constipation. But, fiber taken in the absence of adequate water intake can also be binding to cause severe constipation. Proper water intake is the number one key to improving your overall health and wellness.
Due to its complexity, laboratory technicians have not yet been able to ascertain the exact fiber content of many foods. Because of this, you may find discrepancies from one fiber source to another. Add to the fact that there are varying sizes of fruits and vegetable, as well as growing conditions, and you can begin to understand why there might be some variations in the number of grams of fiber listed for different food items.
If you’re not used to eating high fiber foods then make your changes gradually to allow your body to adjust. Anyone with a chronic disease should always consult their physician first before they alter their diet.
As you can see, increasing your fiber intake can have a positive effect on cholesterol reduction. With guidance, and using some simple steps to incorporate more fiber into your diet, you can get Randy from American Idol (remember Randy) to say, “It’s the Bomb, Baby!”