What do you need more of in 2019 to reach your health goals? Sleep? Exercise? Relaxation? Time with close friends? All things worth pursuing! And we’d like to nominate a humble, easily obtained item to the list: dietary fiber.
New research underscores the health benefits of this natural component of whole grains, vegetables and fruits, beans and lentils, and nuts.
After analyzing more than 40 years’ worth of observational studies and some clinical trials, researchers concluded that eating sufficient fiber can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes—and your risk of an early death from all causes, and heart-related causes in particular.
Fiber, a type of carbohydrate that your body doesn’t digest, comes in two forms: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and helps to lower cholesterol and blood sugar, and insoluble fiber, which doesn’t dissolve in water and helps food move through your digestive system.
Americans typically consume about 15 grams of fiber a day, but we need about double that amount—at least 25 to 30 grams a day! You can meet that quota easily by eating a whole-foods, plant-centric diet.
For starters, include vegetables and whole fruits at every meal, and replace refined grains (processed grains with less fiber) like white rice and white-flour pasta with whole grains.
Put steel-cut oats and salads with berries and seeds on your regular breakfast rotation, enjoy beans or lentils at any time of day, and keep nuts and fresh fruit on hand for snacks.
Of course, along with giving you the fiber you need, a plant-based, real-food diet delivers vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and amazing flavor!
Source: Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses