Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Top Fiber-Rich Foods

In recognition of fiber's many benefits, the magazine Today's Dietician looks at some of the best ways to boost fiber intake-from whole to fortified foods, using data from the USDA National Nutrient Data-base for Standard Reference.

1. Hop on the Bran Wagon! Bran from many grains is very rich in dietary fiber. Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Wheat, corn and rice bran are high in insoluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Bran can be sprinkled into your favorite foods-from hot cereal to pancakes, cookies and muffins. Many high fiber cereals such as All-Bran and Fiber One are also packed with bran.

2. Going to Bean Town- Beans are one of the most naturally rich sources of fiber, as well as protein, lysine, vitamins and minerals. Some people experience intestinal gas and discomfort associated with bean intake, so they may be better off slowly introducing beans into their diet. Encourage a variety of beans. Some of these high fiber options include lima beans, adzuki beans, black beans, garbanzo benas, kidney beans and lentils.

3. Go Berry Picking- Since berries are packed with tiny seeds, their fiber content is typically higher than that of many fruits. You can enjoy berries year round by making the most of local berries in the summer, and eating frozen, preservedand dried berries during the other seasons. Berries make great toppings for cereals, yogurt, salads and desserts. Elderberries boast the highest fiber content at 10 grams per cup, followed closely by blackberries, loganberries, raspberries and boysenberries.

4. Wholesome Whole Grains- A grain in nature is essentially the entire seed of the plant made up of the bran, germ and the endosperm. Refining the grain removes the germ and the bran, thus fiber and other key nutrients are lost. Te Whole Grains council recognizes a variety of grains and defines whole grains or foods made from them as containing "all the essential parts and naturally occuring nutrients of the entire grain seed." Some different whole grains to incorporate into your diet include amaranth (6 g of fiber per 1/4 cup), barley, rye flour and buckwheat. Oats and Popcorn are some of the more familiar sounding grains that are included in this list.

5. Sweet Peas! Peas are naturally chock full of fiber, Split peas pack an amazing 16 grams of fiber per cup when cooked. Frozen peads are not far behind with 14 grams per 1 cup serving. Some other are black eyed peas and pigeon peas.

6. Green, the Color of Fiber- There are more than 1,000 species of plants with edible leaves, many with similar nutritional attributes, including high-fiber content. Cooked turnip greens, mustard greens and collard greens contain 5 grams of fiber per cup.

7. Squirrel Away Nuts and Seeds- One ounce of nuts and seeds can provide a hearty contribution to the day's fiber recommendation, alng with the bonus of healthy fats, protein and phytochemicals, Some great picks to go nuts over-almonds, pistachios, cashews and peanuts.

8. Play Squash! These nutritious gems are part of the gourd family and contribute a variety of flavors, textures and colors, as well as fiber, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, to the dinner plate. Brush squash with olive oil and grill it in the summertime for a healthy, flavorful accompaniment to grilled meats.

9. Brassica or Bust! Brassy beauties, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and brussel sprouts, are also full of fiber. Brassica vegetables have also been studied for their cancer protective effects associated with their high levels or glucosinolates.

10. Hot Potatoes- The top vegetable crop in the world is plump with fiber. There are numerous potatoes that can provide a rainbow of colors, nutrients and flavors-and remind you to eat the skins to reap the greatest fiber rewards. ome favorites are the russet, the red potato or the sweet potato, packing 4 grams of fiber in one medium potato.

Some other top fiber rich foods include every day fruits such as pears, apples, bananas and dried fruits such as prunes and figs. Exotic foods such as avocado, edamame and jicama also pack a whopping 6 grams of fiber per cup serving. There are also many foods fortified with fiber-Silk Soy Milk is fortified with 5 grams of fiber per cup and high fiber bars such as Gnu High Fiber bar has 12 grams of fiber per bar! So you can see there is no excuse to not get your fiber going!

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