Are you getting enough dietary fiber? According to statistics, you are most likely falling short. The average American consumes a meager 12 to 17 grams per day, which is only about half the amount recommended.
Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is present in the plant foods we eat. What makes it different from other carbohydrates is the fact that it resists digestion. Instead of being absorbed, it moves through the digestive tract intact, conferring a myriad of health benefits. The main benefits include lowering one’s risk for type II diabetes, heart disease, diverticulitis, constipation, and colon cancer.
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is present in foods like oatmeal, barley and nuts. Combined with water in the digestive tract, it forms a gel like substance, which is important in regulating blood sugar and for improving bad cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber is present in foods such as celery and whole-wheat products. Its main benefit is adding bulk to the stool. This causes digested food to move more quickly through the digestive tract, promoting regularity and decreasing the amount of time that toxins remain in the body. Getting enough of both types of fiber in diet is important for health.
The best way is to get enough fiber into your diet is to incorporate a wide variety of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. However, make sure to increase the amount of water you drink and you up your fiber intake. Also, increase your intake slowly, by a couple of grams per day; this way your body can adjust without experiencing negative side effects such as flatulence and bloating.
Try this Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Arugula recipe from Cooking Light for 8g of fiber and only 347 calories per serving!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 1 pound arugula, trimmed and torn (about 16 cups)
- 4 cups hot cooked whole-wheat spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add red pepper and garlic; sauté 20 seconds. Add tomato and arugula; saute 2 minutes or until arugula is wilted. Spoon into a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil, spaghetti, vinegar, salt, and black pepper; toss well. Sprinkle with cheese.
Assistance provided by Allison van Camp.