Get Fabulously Fit with Fiber
Want to increase your vitality and improve your overall well-being? Then try
eating more fiber every day. According to the American Heart Association
(AHA), fiber is important for the health of our digestive system as well as
for lowering cholesterol. Dietary fiber is a transparent solid carbohydrate
that is the main part of the cell walls of plants. It has two forms: soluble
and insoluble. Soluble fiber may help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the
risk of heart disease and stroke. Insoluble fiber provides the bulk needed
for proper functioning of the stomach and intestines. It promotes healthy
intestinal action and prevents constipation by moving bodily waste through
the digestive tract faster, so harmful substances don't have as much contact
with the intestinal walls. Both the AHA and the National Cancer Institute
recommend that we consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day.
by Monique N. Gilbert
Article continues below
Unfortunately, many people are not eating this much fiber. The reason is the
conventional animal-based Western diet, which is high in saturated fat and
low in fiber. This type of diet is causing serious concerns. Heart disease
and stroke have become major health problems in most developed countries, and
are rapidly increasing in prevalence in many lesser developed countries.
This is mainly due to the global influence of the typical Western diet.
Recently the AHA and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) confirmed that
coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States,
killing more people than any other disease. It causes heart attack and
angina (chest pain). A blood clot that goes to the heart is considered a
heart attack, but if it goes to the brain it is a stroke. The AHA ranks
stoke as the third most fatal disease in America, causing paralysis and brain
Eating a high-fiber diet can significantly lower our risk of heart attack,
stroke and colon cancer. A 19-year follow-up study reported in the November
2001 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that increasing bean
and legume intakes may be an important part of a dietary approach to
preventing coronary heart disease. Soybeans and legumes are high in protein
and soluble fiber. Another study reported in the January 2002 issue of the
Journal of the American College of Cardiology also suggests that increasing
our consumption of fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables,
can significantly lower the risk of heart disease. Additionally, results
from recent studies at the American Institute of Cancer Research indicate
high-fiber protein-rich soy-based products, such as textured soy protein and
tempeh, help in preventing and treating colon cancer.
Soybeans and other legumes are excellent sources of fiber. An average
serving of cooked dry beans contains about 10 grams of fiber. Whole soybeans
and foods made from them, such as soy flour, textured soy protein (also known
as Textured Vegetable Protein) and tempeh, are extremely rich in fiber. However, some soy foods,
like tofu and soymilk, contain very little fiber due to the way they are
processed. Tofu, for example, leaves most of its fiber behind in processing
when the milk is squeezed from the soybean. Reading the Nutrition Facts
label to find out the amount of, and the type of, fiber contained in any
particular food is always wise.
Examples of Dietary Fiber: |
- 1 cup of cooked dry beans = 9-14 grams of fiber
- 1 cup of raisin bran cereal = 8 grams of fiber
- 1/2 cup of soy tempeh = 7 grams of fiber
- 1/2 cup of soy flour = 6 grams of fiber
- 1/2 cup of edamame (whole green soybeans) = 5 grams of fiber
- 6 Brussels sprouts = 5 grams of fiber
- 1 medium apple = 4 grams of fiber
- 1 cup of carrot strips = 4 grams of fiber
- 5 dried plums (prunes) = 3 grams of fiber
- 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour = 3 grams of fiber
- 1 cup pineapple juice = 2 grams of fiber
- 1/2 cup of tofu = 1 gram of fiber
|Hummus (Dairy-Free) |
Try this wonderfully delicious heart-healthy high-fiber dip recipe, which can
also be used as a sandwich spread.
- 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans or white beans
- 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 2-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/3 cup soymilk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Makes 2-2/3 cups (4-6 servings)
- Place beans, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor. Blend
for a full 1-2 minutes, until a paste is formed.
- Add soymilk and salt. Blend until it's smooth and creamy.
- Transfer to a container and refrigerate to chill. Serve as a dip with
crackers, pita bread wedges or fresh cut up vegetables; or as a spread with
pita bread or tortillas.
This recipe is from Monique N. Gilbert's book "Virtues of Soy: A Practical
Health Guide and Cookbook" (Universal Publishers, 2001, pp. 86-87).
"Legume consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in US men and
women: NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study." Bazzano, L. A., He, J.,
Ogden, L. G., Loria, C., Vupputuri, S., Myers, L., Whelton, P. K., Archives
of Internal Medicine 2001 Nov 26;161(21):2573-2578.
"A prospective study of dietary fiber intake and risk of cardiovascular
disease among women." Liu, S., Buring, J. E., Sesso, H. D., Rimm, E. B.,
Willett, W. C., Manson, J. E., Journal of the American College of Cardiology
2002 Jan 2;39(1):49-56.
"Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook" by Monique N.
Gilbert, Universal Publishers, 2001, pp. 11, 18, 24.