It's no secret that fiber is good for ya, but in a recent study scientists discovered why, exactly, more roughage protects your health. Their main finding: More fiber increases insulin sensitivity and helps manage blood sugar, which is good news for preventing both diabetes and obesity. The Institute of Medicine suggests that women take in at least 25 grams of fiber per day, and men at least 38. And that's not as hard as it sounds! Here are some simple ways to fiber-load your diet:
• Replace fats in baked goods with produce. Try subbing half of your recipe's butter or oil with fruit or vegetable purees. Great options: pumpkin, apple, and zucchini. You’ll cut down on fat and calories while adding not just fiber, but health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as well.
• Eat the peel. Keeping the skin on your fruits and veggies will add about two grams of fiber. Plus, the peel is where many antioxidants hide out.
• Experiment with grains. Instead of whole-wheat pasta or brown rice, try out more exotic grains like amaranth, farro, freekeh, and buckwheat. Each offers between four and eight grams of fiber per cooked cup, and you’ll get to experience new flavors and textures. Mix in vegetables (grilled, roasted, or fresh), beans, herbs, and spices for a fiber-packed meal.
• Sneak in veggies. Toss shredded zucchini, squash, or carrots into pasta sauces and casseroles, or add pureed squash or cauliflower to macaroni and cheese. Each of these moves adds between 2-6 grams of fiber per cup, and also displaces some of the calories from starchy pasta and heavy cheese.
• Ditch the mayo. Hummus is a far superior spread for your sandwich. You'll get the same creamy taste while cutting out saturated fat and adding an extra gram of fiber. Throw veggies in your sammy, and you're looking at an easy 5 grams.
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