The Benefits of fiber

June 2, 2010 4:54:19 PM PDT
Fiber is that stuff in food that passes through your body without being digested, like the strings in celery. Americans get only about a third of the recommended amount of fiber.

It doesn't look like the fountain of youth, but shoppers might not know that the produce they're buying may be extending their lives and helping them look better. Fruits and veggies are rich sources of fiber.

So are cereals made from oats. At three servings a day, Researcher Dr. Wahida Karmally, from Columbia University Medical Center, showed that they can help lower LDL or bad cholesterol. That can reduce your risk of a heart attack.

"We had a five percent decrease in cholesterol, which is a significant drop in cholesterol," said Dr. Karmally.

Most Americans get only about 10 grams of fiber per day, whereas about 30 is recommended. One serving of cereal has about 3 grams; a half cup of lentils has eight grams, an apple four grams. Another suggestion is to grind up flax seeds and sprinkle on salads or as a crust on fish. Flax is loaded with fiber and with heart-healthy omega 3 oil.

Fiber from fruits and vegetables is not just heart healthy, it's one of the easiest ways to lose weight.

Any of the fiber-rich foods will make your stomach feel full, for very few calories.

Compare a tuna sub with potato chips and ice cream at 1000 calories, to a tuna wrap with veggies on a whole wheat tortilla, and a yogurt. Only about 500 calories.

Lose weight while feeling full. Some people know this trick already.

A side benefit to fiber is no constipation.

"It increases the volume of the stool and people will not have a problem with constipation," said Dr. Karmally.

Dr. Karmally warns to drink lots of water during the day, as fiber holds on to water in the intestinal tract.

Also, don't forget nuts. A handful of almonds, walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts is a great snack that will fill you up without filling you with very many calories.