Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body is unable to digest. It is found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fiber slows down digestion, meaning you will feel full for longer. This decrease in appetite can reduce your hunger and decrease the amount of calories you ultimately consume. Another great benefit is that fiber can actually balance your blood sugar, allowing your body to remain in a fat burning zone longer. Even individuals not trying to lose weight will benefit from fiber’s ability to maintain energy levels and mood. It may also be helpful in reducing your risk for heart disease, diabetes and obesity along with keeping your digestive tract healthy.
Men need about 38 grams of fiber per day, women about 25 grams. However, the average adult consumes only 15 grams each day.
Here are some tips to ensure you’re getting enough fiber and enjoying the full benefits:
• Increase your vegetable and fruit intake
-- See our tips on “Eating a Rainbow” for more ideas.
• Swap processed foods for whole grains
-- Replace white rice with brown or wild rice.
-- Choose steel cut or rolled oats over sugary breakfast cereals.
-- Try adding different whole grains into your diet. This may include amaranth, millet, quinoa, farina and spelt.
• Choose your processed foods carefully
-- Choose packaged grains or carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and cereal, with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
It is best to increase your fiber intake slowly to prevent digestive upset. Also, make sure you’re consuming an adequate amount of fluid along with the fiber.
RECIPE: Slow-Cooker Chili Recipe
Full of nutrient packed vegetables and high fiber, protein rich beans, chili is a simple, hearty and healthy meal to serve the whole family. The following recipe utilizes a slow cooker to get stronger flavors and to save you time! Chili can also be made a few days ahead of time, and can even be frozen in an air-tight, freezer safe container for up to one month. Chili can also be made a vegetarian meal easily by omitting the hamburger meat.
• 1 cup diced onion*
• 1 cup green or red bell peppers*
• 3 cloves of garlic, diced
• 1 (10.75 oz) can tomato puree
• 1 (10.75 oz) can diced tomatoes
• 2 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
• 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, with liquid
• 1½ Tbsp chili powder
• 1 tsp dried parsley
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ tsp black pepper
• 2 tsp dried basil
• 2 tsp dried oregano
• 1 tsp Tabasco (optional for extra spice)
*These vegetables can be purchased pre-cut or frozen to save prep time
1. Place the ground chicken or beef in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until evenly brown. Drain grease.
2. Place the meat in a slow cooker, and mix in onion, bell peppers, garlic, tomato, kidney and cannellini beans, and green chiles. Season with chili powder, parsley, salt, basil, oregano, black pepper, and hot pepper sauce.
3. Cover, and cook 8 hours on Low.
4. Optional: Top with salsa or sour cream
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