Monday, October 27, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Fiber

(Info from Weight Watchers cookbook 1993)

What is dietary fiber?
It is the indigestible parts of plant-derived foods - fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.  Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs and fats do not contain dietary fiber.

What's the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber?
Insoluble fiber (some good sources are wheat brand and pears) provides "bulk" to move food through the digestive tract, keeping constipation at bay; insoluble fiber may also protect against some types of cancer.  Soluble fiber (oats, beans, and oranges are good sources) helps lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.  Most foods contain some of each type of fiber.

Can I "overdose" on fiber?
Yes.  If you increase your fiber intake too quickly, you may suffer bloating and cramps.  Add fiber to your diet gradually, and drink plenty of water.

Can't I just take a pill?
Most fiber pills have little fiber in them, and do not contain a good balance of the different types of fiber.  You're much better off consuming a variety of foods, form which you'll also reap a bounty of vitamins, minerals, and eating pleasure.

How can I get the most fiber form foods?
Eat fruits and vegetables (such as potatoes) with their skins, and opt for the whole food rather than juice.  Choose whole grain cereal, bread, pasta, and flour over refined grain products.

How does food preparation affect fiber content? 
Cutting, chopping, cooking and freezing has no significant effect on fiber content.  However, sieving and straining foods will remove some fiber.

Will a bran muffin a day do the trick?
No.  Many "bran" muffins contain negligible amounts of fiber.  Their main ingredients are usually white flour and sugar.  The label of a truly high-fiber muffin will list bran or whole-grain flour as its first ingredient.

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