7 Surprising Ways to Add More Inflammation-Busting Fiber to Your Diet
Fiber is crucial for a healthy digestive system… which you probably already knew. What you may not know is that although most people think they get plenty of it, only about 5% of Americans actually get enough fiber in their diets.
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Interestingly, although vegetable and fruit fiber are very important for your health and can aid digestion, a recently published study suggests that cereal fiber in particular may lower levels of inflammation in the body and prevent cardiovascular disease. But getting enough fiber in general is important because it can lower your blood pressure, decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and act as a prebiotic.
So how do you know if you’re getting enough fiber?
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should consume about 25g of fiber per day and men 38g. You may think you’re getting enough fiber if you eat a reasonably healthy diet, but consider this: there are only 2g in a half-cup serving of oatmeal, and a cup of Cheerios only has three. So if you’re not getting enough fiber in your day, check out these simple ideas to up your fiber intake:
1. Swap your dairy milk for oat milk
This easy switch is a great way to add more fiber to your diet without compromising taste. For example, Oatly brand oat milk contains 0.8g of fiber per 100ml, while whole milk doesn’t contain any.
You can use oat milk anywhere that you would use dairy milk; it’s great for oatmeal, in coffee, on cereal, as a base for sauces, and in baking. It’s worth bearing in mind that there are a lot of different kinds of oat milk available, so you may need to try a few to find your favorite. For example, ‘barista’ style oat milk is thick and creamy, perfect for making a latte or sauce, while standard oat milk may better suit your morning oatmeal or cereal. If you’re looking to make a healthy switch, make sure you choose a type of oat milk that doesn’t have added sugar, and if you can, choose one with added B vitamins and vitamin D.
If you’re looking to save some money, you can make oat milk yourself at home. Simply blend water and oats, then strain through a cheesecloth. You can adjust the ratio of oats to milk to your preference — four parts water to one part oats is an excellent place to start, decreasing to three parts water if you want your milk a little thicker.
2. Let your vegetables keep their peels on
The majority of the fiber in many vegetables is in the skin, so the next time you’re making dinner, save yourself a job and leave the peeler in the drawer.
For example, 100g of boiled potato flesh contains 1.8g of dietary fiber, while 100g of boiled potato skin contains 3.3g — that’s an impressive difference.
If you do want to peel your vegetables, keep hold of the skins to make vegetable broth, or roast them up separately with a bit of salt and olive oil to make homemade vegetable crisps.
3. Eat more chocolate
Specifically, eat more dark chocolate. There is almost 11g of fiber in a 100g bar of dark chocolate made from 70-85% cocoa, making this a fiber-dense treat!
As well as being a good source of fiber, studies suggest that dark chocolate has a positive effect on blood pressure, and may reduce inflammation.
Although dark chocolate has more health benefits than milk chocolate, sometimes people don’t love it initially because of its slightly bitter taste. If this sounds like you, try pairing it with a sweet fruit like strawberries or kiwi.
4. Bake with almond flour
You can use almond flour, which is usually made from blanched almond, as a substitute for flour in many baking recipes. Blanched almonds have 9.9g of fiber per 100g, and they also keep blood sugar at a more stable level than grains, which can help prevent you from feeling hungry after you’ve eaten.
Another benefit of ground almonds is that they are gluten-free, and due to the high fat content of almonds, almond flour gives a lovely, moist finish when used in baking, which gives them an advantage over other kinds of gluten-free flour.
If you want to try cooking with almond flour, it’s a good idea to follow a recipe the first few times, as it won’t work in the same way as wheat flour. For example, you often need an extra binding agent when using almond flour. (To get started, check out our guide to alternative flours to learn more.)
5. Mix up some energy balls
Energy balls are usually made by blending up oats, nut butter, and any other flavorings that you like to make a healthy snack tailored to you. They don’t require any baking, just some time to set in the refrigerator.
If you’ve never made energy balls before, these dark chocolate and peanut butter energy balls are a great place to start! The recipe uses half a cup of peanut butter, which is about 10g of fiber on its own, and with the added oats and dark chocolate, it’s a great way to up your fiber intake.
A simple way to ensure you’re getting enough fiber is to load up your lunch and dinner plates with a side of vegetables. But by the end of a busy day, you probably feel less than enthusiastic about standing in the kitchen peeling and chopping. It often feels easier to throw something in the oven and leave the vegetables for another day.
One solution to this problem is to make a batch of healthy coleslaw and keep it in the fridge for the week ahead. You can make a vinegar-based coleslaw from cabbage, carrots, and onion and even include apples and raisins for sweetness. This delicious, healthy side will keep in the fridge for up to five days.
7. Sneak vegetables into your desserts
Avocados are a fantastic source of fiber, with nearly 7g of fiber per 100g (around half an avocado, depending on how big it is).
While avocados are delicious on toast or in a salad, they also make a beautiful, creamy addition to ice creams, puddings, desserts and pies. Any one of these avocado dessert recipes is perfect for sneaking some fiber into your diet — and as a dessert, no less.
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