March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
Fiber is best known for helping to keep food moving efficiently through your body. This is only one of the many ways fiber contributes to good health. Fiber helps prevent:
- Heart disease: Fiber may aid in the prevention of heart disease by helping lower your cholesterol.
- Diabetes: Fiber helps control blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.
- Digestive Problems: Adequate amounts of fiber from foods can help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids.
- Weight Gain: A high-fiber eating plan is lower in calories and tends to make you feel full faster.
Consuming enough fiber may be easier than you think. Fiber is found in whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. The recommended daily amount of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. After age 50, your daily fiber needs drop to 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.
You can meet your daily fiber needs with 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables every day, along with whole grains and beans. Add vegetables to stews and casseroles, and add oats to meat loaf, breads and cookies. Add fruit to cereal or salads, or eat it as a snack.