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Fiber is an essential nutrient that contribute to health and wellness in several ways. It aids in providing fullness after meals, helps promote healthy weight, lower cholesterol levels, prevent constipation, and keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range.

Fiber is found in plant foods. Eating the skin or peel of fruits and vegetables provides an increased amount of fiber. Fiber is also found in beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.  The more refined or processed a food is, the lower the fiber content. For example, an apple is 4 grams of fiber, ½ cup of apple sauce is 1.4 grams, and ½ cup of apple juice contains no fiber. Whole grains and beans tend to be higher in fiber than fruits and vegetables, but all are good sources of dietary fiber.

The recommended amount of fiber is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. When adding fiber to your diet, do so gradually to avoid digestive upset. Include plenty of fluids, as fiber needs water to help it pass though the digestive system. Here are a few tips to increase your fiber intake:

FOR BREAKFAST

Choose oatmeal and berries with nuts over a low fiber refined cereal choice.

AT LUNCH

Choose a sandwich or wrap made with a whole grain bun or whole grain tortilla and add vegetables to it such as spinach, tomatoes, onions, or cucumbers, or choose a vegetable-based soup. 

SNACK

On fresh fruits and vegetables or whole grain crackers with hummus. Make smoothies from frozen fruits and vegetables. Add a can of beans to a salad.

AT DINNER

Think about exchanging white rice or pasta for brown rice or whole grain or lentil pasta. Add vegetables to a stir fry or pasta sauce. 

There are so many creative ways to increase fiber intake to help get to the daily recommended amount!

Before you take a fiber supplement, consider that the fiber found naturally in foods will not only give you a feeling of fullness, but will contribute other important nutrients to your diet. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals which our bodies need to function properly. 

Image Credit: Olga Kudriavtseva on Unsplash

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