The SparkPeople Blog

All Entries For fiber

7 High-Fiber Cereals that Actually Taste Good


The high fiber cereals of years ago offered little taste for the nutritional benefit they provided. Today, that has changed and you can get a great tasting cereal that is also a good fiber source.

Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. Not only does it aid in weight loss by helping you feel full and satisfied longer, it also helps reduce risks of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and aids in blood sugar control. Many people need more fiber in their diet and breakfast cereal provides a great option for maximizing your daily intake by getting the day started with a fiber rich meal.

Posted 11/2/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 328 comments   315,889 views
Read More ›

Load Up on Lentils: 10 Healthy Recipes


Don’t love lentils? We’re here to convince you otherwise. People have been eating lentils for millennia; they’re common in Mediterranean, Asian and Indian cuisines.
That’s no surprise: These tiny legumes are packed with dietary fiber, protein and valuable nutrients including folate and magnesium, so they’re healthful additions to your plate. In fact, they are one of the best meatless protein sources.
 
Beyond those benefits, though, they’re just delicious: pleasantly earthy in flavor, with a hearty texture that’s really satisfying. (In fact, if you don’t love lentils, you may have found them mushy and overcooked.) Lentils are typically sold dried—you’ll find black (Beluga), red, green or French (du Puy) varieties—and they’re super easy to cook and incredibly versatile. Here are 10 great ways to make lentils a healthy part of your diet:
 
Lentils 1, 2, 3
Think 1, 2, 3: 1 cup of dried lentils plus 2 cups of water yields about 3 cups of cooked lentils. You can double or reduce the amounts to suit your recipe. Lentils freeze beautifully, so you’re smart to cook a double batch and freeze what you don’t use right away.
 

Cooking Lentils, Part 1

To cook black, green or French lentils: Place the dried lentils in a colander and rinse under cool water; pick out any debris or shriveled lentils. Bring lentils, water and a generous pinch of salt to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Begin tasting for doneness after 20 minutes; you want the lentils cooked al dente, like pasta—cooked through, but not at all mushy.
 

Cooking Lentils, Part 2

Red and orange (and some green) lentil varieties are commonly split, so they cook much faster than their darker cousins. Also, they get softer with cooking, almost disintegrating, so red and orange lentils are great for soups or for Indian dishes. Use the same proportions of water and lentils, and cook for about 10 minutes.
 
 

Lentil Soup with Spicy Italian Sausage

Bacon or sausage are flavorful partners to lentils, and this easy soup features big chunks of root vegetables and rounds of cooked Italian sausage; substitute chicken sausage if you’d like.
Posted 3/5/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 23 comments   51,144 views
Read More ›

You Asked: Is It Possible to Eat Too Much Fiber?


Fiber plays an important role in your health. Most adults need to eat between 25 and 35 grams of fiber each day. (To learn more about fiber sources and health benefits, read Figuring Out the Facts on Fiber.) Despite all its health benefits, you can overdo it on fiber. Eating more than 50 grams of fiber a day might…
  • decrease the amount of vitamins and minerals your body absorbs, among them zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
  • move food through the digestive tract too quickly for some nutrients to be absorbed properly.
  • cause gas, diarrhea, bloating, diarrhea or stomach discomfort.
  • decrease your appetite for other nutrient-rich foods that are needed by the body for proper health.
Posted 10/1/2012  12:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 5 comments   9,470 views
Read More ›

Study: Adding Fiber Can Be a Pain the Gut


I'm a fan of fiber. In addition to keeping your GI system happy and healthy, fiber helps fill you up and ward off hunger--if Mother Nature put it in your food, that is. When fiber is added to processed foods by manufacturers, a new short-term study found that this functional fiber lacks the same hunger-busting benefits--and might even cause discomfort.
This "stealth" fiber is added to foods like granola and snack bars, breads, crackers, cereals, and even yogurt in the past few years. Inulin, polydextrose and maltodextrin are among the added fibers used by food manufacturers to add health benefits to foods.
Back in 2010 I wrote about the adverse reactions I have with inulin, so I avoid it and other forms of functional fiber to prevent bellyaches and bloating. The women in the study, who were given four snack bars with no added fiber and one with extra fiber, had the same reactions. When they consumed a high-fiber bar, they felt no difference in hunger levels versus when they ate the low-fiber bar, but they did report more gas and bloating.

I understand the appeal of added fiber foods. But if you're eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, consuming the recommended 25-35 grams of fiber daily is within reach.

Let's look at a sample meal plan to see how fiber adds up:
Posted 8/15/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 22 comments   10,299 views
Read More ›

The Perfect Super Bowl Party Food: Chef Meg's Chili Con Carne


Families have gone to war over chili recipes! Everyone has an idea about what should go in chili. I love a thick, meaty chili with loads of beans and vegetables. Thankfully my family agrees!

I love this recipe. It's great for a crowd, and t really requires little work on my part. The slow cooker does the work.

You might be tempted to skip the steps of searing the meat and cooking the onions and spices, but don't! They're adding valuable layers of flavor to your chili.

Posted 2/2/2011  2:06:37 PM By: Meg Galvin : 38 comments   12,197 views
Read More ›

'Fake' Fiber in Your Food? How to Spot It


Studies over the last two decades have revealed ways to chemically alter naturally digestible starches. The chemical modifications introduce bonds that make them non-digestible by human enzymes in the digestive tract. Benefits of the newly manufactured starch fiber additives are largely unknown.

We have talked about the new manufactured fibers known as stealth fiber. We have mentioned there is a new fiber category in the midst of the FDA rulemaking process apparently with the full backing of industry. New products are finding a place at the manufacturing table. New fiber enhancement products are being added so baked goods, snack foods, breakfast cereals, and nutrition bars can meet "good source of fiber" or "excellent source of fiber" labeling claims. Now we need to talk about how you can use this information.

You will not find "stealth fiber" listed on the food label. You may see or hear "modified natural fibers" used in marketing campaigns. Strange derivative terms for natural portions of wheat, potato, or corn are more likely to appear on labels. It will be important for consumers to have an understanding of such terms as an indicator of modification. Here are some specifics to help you decipher food labels as you interpret product fiber sources.

Posted 9/2/2010  6:48:16 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 69 comments   21,874 views
Read More ›

Fiber: Perhaps Not as Simple as You Thought


Since the early 1950's when the term was first coined, dietary fiber has been known as a type of carbohydrate from plant foods that is not digested or absorbed. They are talked about many times based on their two different types, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber touted for its blood cholesterol lowering benefits and ease to acquire from foods such as oats, beans, lentils, citrus fruits, and carrots. Insoluble fiber recommended for its benefits for the digestive system and healthy food sources such as bran, whole grain products, fruit, and vegetables.

Food manufacturers have begun adding fiber to foods that were previously fiber free. (Learn more about this "stealth fiber.") Foods such as yogurt, ice cream, or drinks with isolated fibers confuse the issue for many consumers. Since many of these isolated fibers can affect the gastrointestinal system and do not contain health protective benefits, it is important to know about new classifications of fiber and why these new additives are permitted.

In 2001, a Panel on the Definition of Dietary Fiber (an Institutes of Medicine panel) responded to an FDA request to formally define dietary fiber. The IOM referred to recommendations and work done by the AACC (American Association of Cereal Chemists) and developed definitions that were presented to the FDA. New definitions focus on diversity of non-digested carbohydrates in the food supply. They broaden the definition from just plants to include carbohydrates contributed by animal foods as well. They also open the door to manufactured fibers as well. So what does this mean to you when you are trying to monitor your fiber intake?

Posted 8/30/2010  6:07:59 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 54 comments   17,429 views
Read More ›

Is 'Stealth Fiber' Lurking in Your Foods?


About three years ago, a friend and I were at a natural foods store in the vitamins aisle. I needed more calcium and magnesium, which I take upon my doctor's recommendation to alleviate premenstrual mood swings. While my friend perused the multivitamins, I strolled up and down the aisle, reading labels. Then I spotted inulin, which I'd read was a great source of prebiotics. As a then-frequent sufferer of stress-related GI distress (this was during my "old life"), I was (and still am) a regular consumer of probiotics, those microorganisms found in your gut and in fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi, which can benefit your immune and digestive systems. In short, prebiotics are what feed probiotics. Anything that helps the good bacteria in your gut thrive and flourish sounded like a great product to me. Besides, I had just read that probiotics were the next big thing in nutrition.

I grabbed a jar, shelled out $8.99, and, upon returning home, stirred two tablespoons into water, just as the jar suggested. It tasted mildly sweet but not too bad. Within an hour, I learned the importance of doing your research before buying any supplement! (Who impulse shops at a health food store, I ask?)

My stomach was visibly distended, hard to the touch, and gurgling loudly. I felt as though I had just gorged on Thanksgiving dinner--I was full and bloated. Later on, I had horrible stomach pains that left me doubled over. Forced to cancel my Saturday night plans, I headed to the Internet and read up on inulin, then chucked my jar in the garbage.

A few months ago, I ate a piece of high-fiber flatbread--something I do not eat--for an afternoon snack and ended up with the same symptoms, primarily stomach pains that kept me from a training run! I read the label after the fact, and a type of added fiber was the culprit. Since then, I avoided these ingredients in all quantities. As I recently read, I'm not the only one who has trouble digesting these added fibers.

You might not have heard of inulin, but if you've eaten high-fiber foods--granola and snack bars, breads, crackers, cereals, and even yogurt--that have popped up on the market in the last few years, you've probably eaten a form of it. Inulins, which are a type of carbohydrate considered to be soluble fiber, are increasingly being added to processed foods as "stealth fibers." What's a "stealth fiber"? Any fiber that is added to a food that wouldn't naturally have it. In addition to inulin, products also use polydextrose and maltodextrin, among others.

Posted 7/27/2010  2:12:57 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 237 comments   98,879 views
Read More ›

We Ate It: Gnu Bars, with 50% of Your Daily Fiber


Do you have a hard time getting adequate fiber?

We're keen on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, so getting adequate fiber isn't usually a problem. However, many of us donít get the much-needed 25 to 30 grams recommended daily for a healthy diet.

Why is fiber so important? In addition to keeping you regular (thus improving your mood, some say!), fiber can also help aid in weight loss, reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure, manage diabetes, prevent certain kinds of cancer and reduce hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. (Find out more about fiber's myriad health benefits in our Fiber Reference Guide.)

Recently, we tried a variety of Gnu Bars. These bars boast that they're high in fiber but don't taste like cardboard, which many people associate with fiber. Find out more.

Posted 3/5/2009  2:04:47 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 125 comments   12,977 views
Read More ›

We Ate It: Muffin and Pancake Mix from Fiber One and Bisquick


Recently, we received some new baking products to try: Fiber One Pancake Mix, Fiber One Muffin Mix, and Bisquick Healthy Heart mix.
We thought we'd give them a shot.

The Fiber One mixes each have 20% of your daily fiber recommendations, while the Bisquick has half the fat as the original.

Find out what we thought.
Posted 2/4/2009  1:55:16 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 186 comments   15,870 views
Read More ›

We Ate It: VitaTop Muffin Tops


Did you ever see the Seinfeld episode with the muffin tops? They are the best part of the muffin, for sure! The folks at Vitalicious know that, and they've created lighter versions of almost every muffin imaginable.
Unlike the 400-calorie-a-pop giant muffins at your favorite coffee houses, these muffins are all about 100 calories, little to no fat, and contain at least 5 g of fiber.

We tried a sampler pack of the muffins.
What they say:
"VitaTop muffin tops have all of the healthy benefits of our delicious VitaMuffin- - now even more convenient to carry and eat on-the-run. The VitaTop, a "one-hand" satisfying snack food with the portability of a bar, is easy to eat anywhere, anytime. At your desk or on the road, these handy muffin tops fit conveniently into a purse, briefcase, work out bag, backpack and lunchbox."
Posted 1/26/2009  1:53:17 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 140 comments   37,913 views
Read More ›

We Tried It: Pasta with 20 Grams of Fiber!


In honor of National Noodle Day, we're bringing you a review of some noodles you might not have seen on your supermarket shelves.

Let me first reveal three personal facts about myself: I'm incredibly skeptical, I'm mildly obsessed with fiber intake, and I haven't eaten regular pasta in at least two years. It's whole wheat or nothing in my house.

So when I heard about the company Fiber Gourmet and its high-fiber, low-calorie pasta, I didn't believe it. The pasta has 130 calories per 2-ounce serving, and a whopping 20 g of fiber (in the fettuccine). That's some serious fiber!
Posted 10/6/2008  11:53:53 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 100 comments   10,888 views
Read More ›

We Ate It: Fiber One 'Pop Tarts'


When I was a kid, my mom kept us on a short leash when it came to food. Two words: Corn Bran. (See previous blog about Kashi Honey Sunshine.) Needless to say, I had never seen a Pop-Tart.
Then my parents amicably split, and my dad, bless his heart, didn't quite know how to feed my sister and me when we visited every weekend. He actually let us pick out what we wanted at the grocery store. (Bad idea, he quickly learned!) And that, my friends, is how at the tender age of 9, I developed an addiction to Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts (toasted and slathered with tub margarine, no less)! (210 calories and 7 grams of fat per pastryómaking my breakfast 420 calories and 14 grams of fat, excluding the margarine!)
Posted 9/11/2008  10:31:05 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 151 comments   24,957 views
Read More ›