How to eat more fiber the easy way
We consume around 30-40 grams of dietary fiber each day. That’s around the same amount of fiber traditionally eaten by people from Mediterranean and Asian cultures. Studies have shown that this amount of fiber each day helps reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol (and thus the risk of heart disease), helps lower blood pressure and regulate blood sugar levels, and helps reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer. But one of the most noticeable benefits of consuming this amount of fiber is that it helps fill us up while providing virtually no calories, which helps keep us in shape.
So, where do we get our fiber from?
Grains: We eat plenty of whole grains, such as whole grain bread and flat breads for sandwiches, wraps and toast; whole grain breakfast cereals; and we often use whole grain pita breads as a pizza base. We also enjoy bulgur served with Greek and Middle Eastern stews or in tabbouleh salad. And we often snack on air-popped popcorn (popcorn, if you didn’t know, is a whole grain).
Vegetables: We eat lots of vegetables — and it’s never a chore. That’s because instead of having vegetables sitting in an unflavored pile by themselves (which is how many Westerners have their vegetables) we typically have them mixed in with the main dish. Some examples include stir-fries, pasta dishes, curries, pizza, risottos, stews, paella, sushi, pilafs, sandwiches and soups. When we have a salad on the side, we also make sure we combine it with a very flavorsome dressing which typically contains oil of some kind (usually olive oil) — which makes it highly palatable.
Fruit: We snack on fruit regularly, scatter cut fruit over our breakfast cereal, and enjoy sliced fruit or fruit salad as a dessert. But to make sure we never get bored with fruit we eat lots of different varieties. Some examples include apples, oranges, pears, bananas, mangoes, pineapple, kiwi fruit, berries (strawberries, raspberries etc.), grapes, lychees, passionfruit, melons (water melon, cantaloupe etc.), papaya, persimmons, plums, figs, apricots and cherries. We also enjoy dried fruit in moderation such as dates, figs and apricots.
Legumes (beans, peas and lentils): Beans are packed with fiber and they’re also a good source of protein, so we often use them in much the same way that meat is used, such as in stews, bakes, pastas and curries. We also enjoy beans in the form of tofu, which we enjoy in stir-fries and soups. Falafel (made from chickpeas) is another favorite of ours, which we enjoy stuffed in pita bread or added to Middle Eastern stews. And we also regularly eat hummus (made from pureed chickpeas and sesame seed paste) as a dip or spread.
Nuts and seeds: We’re certainly nuts about nuts, which we snack on regularly. But we also use nuts and seeds a lot in our cooking. For example we love pesto sauce (which contains pine nuts), we also sometimes add nuts like walnuts to pastas and risottos, and often add cashews, slivered almonds or toasted sesame seeds to stir-fries. Other ways we enjoy nuts are scattered into salads to add flavor and texture, and sprinkled over oatmeal, fruit yogurt or fruit salad.