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Fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains all contain dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate that provides minimal energy for the body. Although the body can't use fiber efficiently for fuel, it's an important part of a healthy eating plan and helps with a variety of health conditions.
·Heart disease: Fiber may help prevent heart disease by helping reduce cholesterol.
·Weight management: Fiber slows the speed at which food passes from the stomach to the rest of the digestive system – this can make us feel full longer. Foods that are higher in dietary fiber often are lower in calories as well.
·Diabetes: Because fiber slows down how quickly food is broken down, it may help control blood sugar levels for people with diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels after meals.
·Digestive issues: Fiber increases bulk in the intestinal tract and may help improve the frequency of bowel movements.
The recommended amount of dietary fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 calories per day, or, about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men each day. Your exact needs may vary depending on your energy needs.
Whole grains and beans tend to be higher in fiber than fruits and vegetables, but all are sources of dietary fiber and contribute other important nutrients. Make sure to include a variety of these foods regularly to meet your dietary fiber needs. These are a few tips to help increase your fiber intake from foods:
·Mix in oats to meatloaf, bread or other baked goods.
·Toss beans into your next salad or soup.
·Chop up veggies to add to sandwiches or noodle dishes such as pasta or stir-fry.
·Blend fruit into a smoothie or use it to top cereal, pancakes or desserts.
It also is important to drink plenty of water and to increase your fiber intake gradually in order to give your body time to adjust.
Community Health Services of Union County, Inc.
What Are Chia Seeds
When you hear "chia" your first thought may be of the green fur or hair of Chia Pets, collectible clay figurines. But did you know that chia seeds also can be a healthful addition to your eating pattern?
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Salvia hispanica seed often is sold under its common name "chia" as well as several trademarked names. Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. The seeds of a related plant, Salvia columbariae (golden chia), were used primarily by Native Americans in the southwestern United States.
Chia seeds have gained attention as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid. They also are an excellent source of dietary fiber at 10 grams per ounce (about 2 tablespoons), and contain protein and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Emerging research suggests that including chia seeds as part of a healthful eating style may help improve cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. However, there are not many published studies on the health benefits of consuming chia seeds and much of the available information is based on animal studies or human studies with a small number of research participants.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables. In Mexico, a drink called chia fresco is made by soaking chia seeds in fruit juice or water. Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in water making it easy to mix them into cooked cereal or other dishes.
The seeds are not the only important part of the chia plant; the sprouts also are edible. Try adding them to salads, sandwiches and other dishes.