Tags: Heart Disease | High Cholesterol | Obesity | fiber | inulin | nutrition | lower

Are You Eating the Right Kind of Fiber?

Are You Eating the Right Kind of Fiber?
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Tuesday, 05 April 2016 03:09 PM

Research keeps finding that eating a high-fiber diet is best to stay healthy. But if you’re not eating the right kind of fiber you may be missing out on some of the benefit, a top expert says.

“People know they should eat more fiber, but if you’re choosing processed foods because their labels say ‘fiber added’ or ‘fiber enriched,’ you may be getting a false sense of security,” says Dr. Charles Platkin.

Dietary fiber is a type of plant-based carbohydrate that cannot be digested and instead passes through to the colon, where it adds bulk. Studies find that a high-fiber diet helps not only aids digestion but also lowers cholesterol, balances blood sugar levels, boosts weight loos, and may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Because of this focus on fiber, food manufacturers are now adding it to foods that don’t contain it naturally, such as ice cream, yogurt, juices, and even cereal bars. They are able to accomplish this by using a substance called inulin, which is made from the chicory plant, says Platkin, a bestselling author and director of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College.

“Inulin is fiber, absolutely, but it’s also fiber that's  been isolated and is used as an additive to boost the fiber content in foods that wouldn’t ordinarily contain it. The problem is that research finds you don’t necessarily get the full benefits from isolated substances as compared to when they occur naturally in foods, combined with other nutrients and chemicals," Platkin says.

“But that’s not the only problem with inulin when it’s added to processed foods. These foods are generally high in sugar, fat and sodium, but when people see a 'fiber added' label, they erroneously to assume that the food is healthy. I’ve even seen inulin added to brownies.”

Also, by only choosing these processed foods, people miss out on the opportunity to broaden their diet, and experiment with natural high-fiber foods, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, by adding them to recipes and menu plans, he adds.

 Here are Platkin’s suggestions on how to add more natural high-quality fiber to your diet:
  • Don’t hide your fruits and vegetables away in refrigerator bins; you’ll forget about them.  Don’t tuck them away; they’ll only spoil. Put them up front and ready to eat.
  • Chop up vegetables, like broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers, and put them in small portions in your refrigerator, so you’ll have them prepped and ready if you want to add them to an omelet or other recipe.
  • Make a smoothie using strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. All berries are high in fiber, especially raspberries, which have the highest levels.
  • Herbs and spices will add interest to vegetables. Have dill, parsley, oregano, and other spices on hand.
  • Make use of garlic. Peel it, but use it whole; garlic will perk up the taste of every dish to which you add it.
  • Make a vegetable-based chili with lots of beans. Beans are high in fiber and a recent study shows that people who just added a serving of beans every day, and didn’t make any other changes in their diet, lost weight and lowered their cholesterol.
  • When you eat out, and you order fries, order a side dish of vegetables as well. You may eat the fries, but at least you’ll also be getting added fiber from the vegetables.

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We all know we should eat more fiber. But if you chose processed foods because the label says 'fiber added,' you may be short-changing yourself, a top nutritionist says.
fiber, inulin, nutrition, lower, cholesterol, prevent, cancer
Tuesday, 05 April 2016 03:09 PM
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