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Posted Sep 13 2008 11:46pm

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Why is fiber such a big deal? Not only do fibrous foods contain many vitamins and minerals, fiber also packs health benefits including:
Delaying sugar into the blood stream – slows how quickly sugar goes into your bloodstream and therefore may reduce peaks of blood sugar levels

Reducing body weight – helps to make you feel full longer and may displace “empty calorie” foods

Reducing blood cholesterol – if you have heart problems or high cholesterol, eating high fiber foods may help to reduce your blood cholesterol levels

Alleviating constipation – helps to improve regularity.

How much fiber should I have each day?

The American Dietetic Association recommends 20-35 grams of fiber per day. The average American only gets 12 grams of fiber each day. Focusing on vegetables, fruits and whole grains will be a great start to getting your fill of fiber.

A word of caution… start slow when adding fiber to your diet. Add a few grams of fiber so your body can adjust to additional fibrous foods. Too much fiber at once can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Drink extra water to help soften fiber.

Make oatmeal (a whole grain) part of your kids' morning meals.

Opt for whole-wheat or other whole-grain cereals that list ingredients such as whole wheat or oats as one of the first few items on the ingredient list.

Make pancakes with whole-grain (or buckwheat) pancake mix and top with apples, berries, or raisins.

Serve bran or whole grain waffles topped with fruit.

Offer whole-wheat bagels or English muffins, instead of white toast.
Serve whole-grain cereals. Many popular cereals are made with whole grains, but try to choose ones that have less sugar than some of the excessively sweet whole-grain cereal offerings.

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