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The ins and outs of fiber

What happened to oat bran?

Remember just a few years ago there was so much excitement over oat bran? Just like fashion, it has gone "out of style." People wanted to think that oat bran would cure everything, including high cholesterol levels. Many people failed to promote oat bran for what it really is - a good source of fiber.

What is fiber?

Fiber comes from the part of the plant that our bodies cannot digest. There are two types of fiber - soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers are found in dried peas and beans, lentils, oats, carrots, bananas, apples, oranges and other fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibers are like a sponge. Once they enter our bodies, they swell and form a gel. They tend to make us feel full longer and may help to lower blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fibers include foods such as wheat, corn and other bran products, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes and peaches. Roughage is another name for insoluble fibers. It moves food quickly through the bowel to help prevent constipation.

Why eat a high fiber diet?

One of the greatest benefits of a high fiber diet is that it prevents colon cancer. People need to eat between 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Most Americans eat about half this amount.

Tips on adding more fiber:

  • Add fiber to your diet gradually. Too much fiber all at once can cause diarrhea and bloating.

  • Choose one or two servings of whole grains every day. Whole grains may include whole wheat bread or muffins, who grain or bran cereals.

  • Eat at least three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruit every day.

  • Eat dried peas or beans two or three times per week. This includes foods like split peas, kidney beans and garbanzo beans.

  • Drink at least eight glasses of liquids every day.

  • Eat a variety of foods like whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Eating more than 50 to 60 grams of fiber a day may interfere with your body's ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. So don't overdo a good thing.


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