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Fiber: Why it Deserves Your Focus

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that isn't digested by your body-it just passes right on through. Here's why this carbohydrate gets more than just a passing mention.

Fiber helps you feel fuller longer, which may aid in weight control. Diets that are high in fiber tend to contain fewer calories for the same amount of food-another reason fiber can help you manage your weight. High-fiber diets can help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Fiber helps your digestive process to work more smoothly (a nice way of saying that fiber reduces your chances of constipation).

Long story short, fiber is a good thing, and most of us should get more of it. Most adults get about 15 grams a day rather than the recommended 20-35 grams.

Fortunately, fiber is found in an abundance of foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, nuts, beans and whole grain breads and cereals.

Choose more of the above foods and fewer refined and processed foods. The refining process removes part of the fiber in foods like pastries, white bread and cereals made without whole grains.

Let's look at how fiber fits into the Food Pyramid.

Fiber and the Food Pyramid

Here are some MyPyramid recommendations with respect to fiber-rich foods:

At least half of the grains you eat should be whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole grain bread, cereal, crackers, rice or pasta everyday. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

And here are some simple ways to incorporate more fiber in your everyday diet:

Eat your fruit rather than drinking it. Here's food for thought: an orange has twice as much fiber as 12oz of orange juice. It also has less sugar.

Munch on fiber-rich snacks like nuts and seeds, fruit, air-popped popcorn and crunchy raw veggies.

Include other fiber-rich foods in your meals like beans and peas, brown rice and couscous.

Look for whole grain on food labels. As mentioned earlier, whole wheat or another whole grain will be the first ingredient listed. Some examples of whole grains are brown rice, buckwheat, bulgar, millet, whole oats or oatmeal, whole rye and whole wheat.

HEALTHY EATING PRIMER

Carbohydrates
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Fiber
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Fat
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The Power of Protein
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Healthy Weight, Healthy Living
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