Eat Fiber-Rich Foods: Live Longer, Healthier

Eat Fiber-Rich Foods: Live Longer, Healthier

You don't need high-priced dietary supplements or fancy breakfast cereals to put more fiber in your diet. Many foods contain dietary fiber which, according to medical studies, may help lower cholesterol, as well as prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. To get the right amount of fiber, adults should do the following:

Eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day. High fiber fruits include: apples, oranges, pears, prunes, and figs. High fiber vegetables include: potatoes, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. Five servings isn't as much as it sounds. A serving of fruit might include: an apple, orange, or banana; 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit; or 3/4 cup of unstrained fruit juice. A serving of vegetables could be a cup of raw, leafy vegetables (such as a small salad); or a 1/2 cup of cooked or raw vegetables.

Eat whole-grain breads and cereals instead of white bread, and brown rice instead of white, refined rice. Good sources of whole-grain include bran muffins, oatmeal, popcorn, multiple-grain cereals (cooked or dry) and 100% whole-wheat bread. When buying bread, don't be fooled by claims such as whole-grain goodness make sure the first item listed on the label is whole wheat.

Eat a bran cereal for breakfast. Check the package label to see how much dietary fiber is in the product.

Add 1/4 cup of wheat bran (miller's bran) to cooked cereal and other foods, such as applesauce, casseroles, or meat loaf.

Eat at least one serving of cooked beans each week.

Finally, drink plenty of water (at least six glasses a day). Don't worry about some bloating, cramping, or gas when you raise your fiber intake. Start slowly and try different foods over a period of several weeks until you get the mix that√Ęs right for you.

No dietary change will work miracles, but a healthy diet with plenty of fiber is a good start. Consult your family physician a medical specialist who is trained to provide complete care, including diet counseling, for you and your whole family. Family physicians have the broad training to treat nine out of 10 medical problems, and they know how to help you through the health care maze so you get the health care services you need.

The preceding article was provided as a public service in support of Family Health Month by The American Academy of Family Physicians, 8880 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri 64114-2797 USA, (800) 274-2237, ext. 4218, or (816) 333-9700; FAX: (816) 333-3344; e-mail:

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