Following a nutritious diet means getting your fill of fiber-rich foods. Fiber is an essential component to health, as it may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, constipation and diverticular disease. Adults should aim to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. One way to ensure that you meet this requirement is to include whole-grain foods in your diet. Whole grains are not only an excellent source of fiber, but they also contain many essential nutrients.
Oatmeal for Breakfast
To start your day out right, go for a filling bowl of whole-grain oatmeal. A 1-cup cooked serving of quick-cooking oats contain 4 grams of heart-healthy fiber. This translates to 15 percent of your daily fiber needs. The type of fiber found in oats is called soluble fiber, which helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Forgo sugar-filled instant oatmeal varieties and season plain oats with sliced fruit, cinnamon and a splash of low-fat milk. If you aren't in the mood for oatmeal, there are many fiber-filled whole-grain cold breakfast cereal options as well.
Benefits of Barley
Among whole grains, barley boasts one of the highest proportions of fiber. A 1-cup cooked serving of barley contains 6 filling grams of fiber. In addition, barley is full of vitamins and minerals and may reduce blood cholesterol level and aid with blood sugar control. Barley is used most often in soups, yet it is a very versatile grain. You can use barley in salads, in stir-fries, as a side dish or as a breakfast cereal. Quinoa and brown rice are two more whole-grain options that can be used in dishes or side dishes, similar to barley. Quinoa packs 5 grams of fiber in a 1-cup cooked serving. A 1-cup serving of cooked brown rice contains 4 grams of fiber.
Whole Wheat Pasta
There is good news for pasta lovers when it comes to increasing your fiber intake. Whole wheat pasta is high in fiber, with 6 grams packed in a cup of cooked noodles. Whole wheat pasta is also a good source of muscle-building protein, as a 1-cup serving provides 7 grams. When enjoying pasta, skip the heavy sauces and season it with herbs and a touch of olive oil.
Whole-Grain Bread Products
Healthy whole-grain products have popped up everywhere, so you can easily find bread, bagels, English muffins, pita pockets, hamburger buns and tortillas that are full of fiber and made from whole-grain ingredients. A 100 percent whole wheat English muffin, for example, provides you with 4 grams of fiber and is also a good source of protein. A medium whole wheat tortilla contains 3 grams of fiber. To reap the health benefits, be sure to choose whole-grain bread products instead of the refined counterparts whenever possible.
Snack on Popcorn
Popcorn is a perfect snack food for those looking for high-fiber whole grains. A 100-calorie, 3-cup serving of air-popped popcorn contains 3 grams of fiber. Popcorn can be a nutritious snack option when you cut back on butter and salt. Instead, season your plain popcorn with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, cumin or cinnamon for a tasty low-fat option.
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- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber
- Whole Grain Council: Whole Grains - An Important Source of Essential Nutrients
- USDA SuperTracker: Food-A-Pedia
- Harvard Medical School: 11 Foods that Lower Cholesterol
- Whole Grain Council: Barley
- University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center: Increasing Fiber Intake
Ann Jensen is a registered dietitian with experience in nutrition education and counseling. She has written numerous nutrition education, weight loss and fitness articles for various publications.