(CARLSBAD, CA) – An apple a day may just keep the doctor away! That’s because fiber from apples, and other similar fruits, has been directly linked to reduced risk of serious medical conditions.
Fiber is a material made by plants that cannot be digested. It’s found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. And while fiber is most often touted as a tool to combat constipation, this dietary all-star is proving to offer many more health benefits. In fact, one Harvard study shows a 40 percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease among adults with high fiber intake. Another Harvard study indicates that the risk of type 2 diabetes is cut in half when adults eat a diet packed with fiber.
Unfortunately, we are experiencing a fiber famine across the United States. Adults should consume between 20-35 grams of dietary fiber each day. Yet, the average American only eats 14-15 grams per day.
Perhaps more Americans would accelerate their efforts to eat a fiber-rich diet if they knew that fiber also aids in weight loss. The number of calories in fiber is small, typically one to two calories per gram of fiber. That means that foods rich in fiber will fill you up on less calories!
When it comes to adding fiber into your daily diet, recommendations from mass media can be confusing. Some publications promote soluble fiber, while others promote insoluble fiber. The simple truth is that both types of fiber are beneficial. All humans need soluble fiber, found in oatmeal, nuts, and citrus fruits, because it helps to regular blood sugar and cholesterol. Meanwhile, the benefits of insoluble fiber, typically found in whole grains and vegetables, include the maintenance of an optimal pH in the intestines.
It may seem like a monumental task to up your intake of dietary fiber. Yet, a few easy adjustments in your diet will do the trick. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett suggests these simple changes to your diet to shore up on fiber:
- Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice.
- Snack on raw vegetables like celery or carrots instead of chips and cookies.
- Replace refined foods, such as white rice and pasta, with brown rice and whole-grain pasta.
- Add legumes to your favorite soup or chili.
- Select whole-grain cereals for breakfast.
- Use whole-grain breads made with 100 percent whole-wheat flour.
- Substitute whole-wheat flour for half of regular flour in baking.
When you increase your fiber intake, try to increase your intake of beverages as well. Since fiber absorbs water, you’ll want to keep your hydration level optimal. The Institute of Medicine’s Food & Nutrition Board recommends that women consume 72 ounces of water per day, while men should aim for 96 ounces.
Start introducing small changes into your diet today. An apple a day, or similar fiber-rich choices, may prove to be your number one ally in maintaining good health.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.