Apples, pears, pumpkin and butternut squash–these are just some of the foods that make autumn a great time to add more fiber to your diet. What is fiber and why is it important? Dietary fiber is the part of the plant food that is not digested; it is the "roughage" that passes through the intestine and aids in waste removal.
Some of the benefits of fiber include improved glucose control, improved cholesterol and triglyceride le
vels, decreased risk of colon cancer and reduced appetite, which can aid in weight loss. Plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are the best sources of dietary fiber.
You can find dietary fiber listed directly below the total carbohydrate on the "Nutrition Facts" label on packaged food. Foods that contain at least 2.5g of fiber per serving are good sources of fiber; those that contain 5g or more are considered high fiber foods. Most Americans only get half the recommended 25g of fiber per day. How can you get enough fiber in your diet?
• Aim for 4–5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day. Choose whole vegetables and fruits instead of juices.
• Substitute whole grain products for refined grains (e.g. brown rice instead of white rice)
• Add legumes (e.g. kidney beans, lentils, black beans, split peas, edamame and chick peas) to soups, salads and casseroles
• Sprinkle nuts or seeds onto salads, cereal or yogurt
Increase your fiber intake gradually and drink plenty of water to prevent constipation. Also, keep in mind certain medical conditions such as diverticulitis, a common digestive disease, may warrant a restriction of fiber intake, so please check with your doctor or dietitian before adding fiber to your diet.