Many spend timeperusing food labels for one magical ingredient that will instantly improvehealth or promote weight loss, but many times they’re not looking in the rightplace. There is an ingredient one canwatch for on labels that will improve heart and digestive health in addition topromoting weight loss.
That ingredient isfiber, and many Americans consume too little and are putting themselves at riskfor heart problems and other health issues according to a December study in theAmerican Journal of Medicine.
Those who consumedmore fiber during the course of the study showed lower risk factors for thedevelopment of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation andobesity. The study also found that thosewho were 50 or older and consumed the most fiber were at a lower risk of dyingfrom respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, or other infectiousdiseases compared to those who ate less. Another report issued in 2011 speculated that colon cancer could beprevented if Americans consumed more plant-rich foods high in fiber, andengaged in more physical activity as a method of weight control and stayinghealthy.
So how much fiber isthe right amount? The Institute ofMedicine recommends 38 grams of fiber per day for men ages 19-50, and 30 gramsper day for men over 50. Women ages19-50 should consume 25 grams per day, and women over 50 should aim for 21grams per day. During the AmericanJournal of Medicine study, it estimated that the national average daily fiberintake is only 15-17 grams, less than half the amount recommended.
To find sources offiber, check labels or stick with natural foods such as fruits, vegetables,beans and whole grains. Lean meats offersome sources, as well as nuts and legumes. Some of the highest fiber content is found in oats, peas, apples,carrots, and citrus fruits. Addingdietary fiber doesn’t mean chewing on raw oats; there are plenty of deliciousways to add this essential nutrient into a diet for maximum health benefits.
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