Tuesday, September 30, 2014

For Optimal Health, Increase Fiber-rich Foods

More research confirms you should eat more whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and nuts to meet your fiber needs.

Dietary fiber has long been touted for its digestive benefits, but the scientific research is booming on fiber’s ability to boost immune health and reduce risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Wendy Dahl, PhD, RD, researcher at the University of Florida, and David Klurfeld, PhD, National Program Leader for Human Nutrition at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, discussed the health benefits of fiber at the Food and Fiber Summit on January 28, 2014 in Washington D.C. For example, two 2013 meta-analyses published in Gastroenterology and a 2012 meta-analysis published in Annals of Oncology indicated dietary fiber is associated with lower risk for colorectal, gastric and breast cancers.
The fiber perception gap. Wide gaps exist between perception and reality when it comes to fiber intake, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2013 Food & Health Survey. An estimated 67 percent of people perceive they consume enough fiber, compared to 5 percent who actually meet their needs. “Consumers say they’re interested in getting more fiber; they know the health benefits and say they are motivated by them. And plenty of fiber-rich foods are available in stores,” stated Carol Byrd- Bredbenner, PhD, RD, FADA, professor at Rutgers, at the Food and Fiber Summit.
Why are we falling short? Even when people choose whole grains, legumes, whole fruits and vegetables, they may 
not be selecting those with the highest fiber levels. Legumes—beans, dried peas, lentils—are the fiber kings, along with whole grains. But not all grains are fiber superstars. For example, barley contains twice the amount of fiber than brown rice—3 grams per one-half cup compared to 1.5 grams, respectively. Even worse is avoiding grains because of one or another fad diet du jour. “The new popularity of gluten-free diets also may be contributing to our fiber shortfall as people avoid fiber- rich grains,” said Leah McGrath, MS, RD, dietitian at Ingles Market, speaking at the Food and Fiber Summit.
Furthermore, berries, artichokes, and pears are among the highest fiber fruits and vegetables, but many people load up on lettuce salads, thinking they are high in fiber, when lettuce provides only .5 grams per cup.

High Fiber Foods

2 c cooked farro, cooled

½ c diced red onions

½ c frozen unsweetened red raspberries, thawed
2 oz chopped walnuts, toasted
1 lemon, juice and zest

½ Tbsp light soy sauce

1 Tbsp grated ginger

2 tsp canola oil

Salt and pepper, optional

1.     In a medium bowl,
 toss together farro, onions, raspberries, and walnuts.
2.     In a small bowl,whisk together lemon zest and juice, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, oil and salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle over salad and combine well.

Makes 6 servings

Nutritional Information per Serving: 153 calories, 5 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 6 g fiber, 154 mg sodium

Recipe adapted courtesy National Processed Raspberry Council

Tips for Boosting Fiber Intake
This article was written by McKenzie for July 2014 issue of Environmental Nutrition.

Disclaimer: While we are the consulting dietitians for the National Processed Raspberry Council, we simply chose to include the raspberry recipe in this article because we do really love it!

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