that a necessary component of our diet with major impacts on
our health is not considered a nutrient. Dietary fiber —
structural components and carbohydrates from plants that the
human body cannot digest — is strongly associated with
numerous health benefits, according to a new position paper on
this topic from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Yet
because it doesn’t meet the strict definition of a nutrient,
we’ll just call it…dietary fiber.
say we have good reason to heed the current advice to
"make half your plate fruit and vegetables" and
"make at least half your grains whole grains." Here
are some facts:
fiber is only found in plant-based foods. Nuts have fiber;
cheese does not. Sweet potatoes have fiber; ham does not.
Figgy pudding has fiber; eggnog does not.
intakes of dietary fiber are consistently associated with
fewer health problems. Considerable evidence shows fewer
incidents of heart disease, diabetes and cancer in people who
eat diets high in fiber. And people who eat more high fiber
foods tend to be thinner than those who don’t.
fiber protects our arteries and guards against heart disease.
Blood pressure and cholesterol numbers tend to be lower in
fiber imbibers. One reason might be that high fiber foods help
to prevent "inflammation" — an internal process
that accelerates the aging process.
fiber feeds good gut bacteria. Fibers from onions, leeks,
garlic, wheat, and oats are known as prebiotics; they guard
the health of our intestines and even help improve the
absorption of nutrients. Other potential prebiotic food
sources, according to the AND, include lentils, garbanzo
beans, rye and barley.
food has a label, you can find out its dietary fiber content.
The goal? Women and men experience health benefits with
intakes of 25 to 38 grams of dietary fiber a day,
respectively. Americans average only about 17 grams,
content in fruit and vegetables varies. A medium orange has
about 3 grams of fiber; an apple or a pear with skin has more
than 5 grams. A cup of lettuce has 1 gram; a cup of lentils or
split peas has 16 grams.
add just 7 to 10 grams of fiber to our daily diet, we can
lower our risk for heart disease and cancer by 9 percent, says
the AND. Here are some ideas:
peanut butter on whole grain toast instead of butter on white
your cheese ball with chopped nuts and serve with whole grain
a pot of lentil, split pea or vegetable soup for your holiday
some carrots, onions and other vegetables along with your
Christmas main dish.
up apples and oranges to munch on while you bake Christmas