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Fiber Is a Key for Long Life and Good Health

By Sara Butler

Fear of Fiber

Fiber doesn’t get enough love. You might go as far to say that fiber strikes fear in the heart of people everywhere as it conjures images of prune juice and tasteless bran muffins. But there’s so much more to fiber than you may realize -- and it’s doing more for your health than you know.

You don’t have to ask your grandmother for advice on how to get enough fiber each day. There are a ton of foods that are both high in fiber and delicious, you simply need to know which ones.

Fiber does a lot of heavy lifting in your life and there are so many ways it contributes to your overall health. Here’s what you need to know about fiber, what it can do for you, and some delicious ways to include it in your everyday diet.

What Fiber Can Do For You

There are a slew of health benefits fiber can bring into your life. You may not think fiber is exciting, but you may change your mind after you find out all that it can do for you, such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight - A lot of people struggle to reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you’re one of them, then fiber is your ally in that fight. Fiber cannot be broken down by your body, so it moves through your digestive tract intact, regulating the way your body uses sugar along the way and keeping your blood sugar in check. It also helps you to feel fuller for longer, so you eat less during the day than you might otherwise.
  • Keeping your digestive system healthy - A diet high in fiber doesn’t simply leave you feeling satisfied, it also helps to keep your digestive system working as it should. Studies have found that diets high in fiber lower your risk of colorectal cancer and may also play a role in preventing disease that impacts the colon.
  • Reducing cholesterol - Fiber helps to keep your blood cholesterol in check, upping your good cholesterol levels and lowering your bad cholesterol levels. It may also have benefits to your heart, such as reducing inflammation and lowering your blood pressure.
  • Living longer - Your prune-juice-loving grandma is onto something because studies have found that increasing fiber intake can also lower your risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Who knows? Maybe you’ll want a prune cake for your 100th birthday!

How Much Fiber Should You Eat?

To get all the benefits from fiber, you must make sure you eat enough of it each day. The National Institutes of Health recommend that men under age 50 eat 38 grams of fiber each day while women under 50 eat 25. If you’re over 50, men should have 30 grams of fiber per day and women should have 21 grams.

Fiber-Rich Foods

You may be asking yourself now, “Which foods are best if you want to increase your fiber intake?” The good news is that there are many -- and they’re probably even foods that you like to eat!

Some of the best fiber-rich foods to easily include in your diet are:

  • Pears - One medium pear provides you with 5.5 grams of fiber.
  • Strawberries - One cup of fresh strawberries delivers 3 grams of fiber.
  • Avocado - Go for the guac! One cup of raw avocado has 10 grams of fiber.
  • Bananas - One medium banana will provide you with 3.1 grams of fiber.
  • Carrots - One cup of raw carrots has 3.6 grams of fiber.
  • Artichokes - An artichoke a day may keep the doctor away. It contains 6.9 grams of fiber in 1 globe.
  • Kale - Kale yeah! Get 3.6 grams of fiber in one cup.
  • Lentils - A serious source of fiber, lentils provide 13.1 grams in a single cup.
  • Kidney beans - One cup of cooked kidney beans provides 12.2 grams of fiber.
  • Chickpeas - One cup of cooked chickpeas provides 12.5 grams of fiber, which is why the phrase “When in doubt, choose hummus” is so popular. Or at least it will be now.
  • Oats - A fiber powerhouse, one cup of oats provides 16.5 grams of fiber.
  • Popcorn - Who doesn’t love popcorn? Love it even more knowing it provides you with 14.4 grams of fiber per 100 grams of popped popcorn.
  • Chia seeds - If you’re looking for a quick way to infuse fiber, then sprinkle some chia seeds on what you’re eating. These bad boys deliver 9.75 grams of fiber per one ounce.

Adding fiber to your diet is anything but boring -- and probably much easier than you thought! Focus on your daily fiber intake and watch the positive impact it has on your life. Then go kiss your grandma.

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