The Great Fiber Frenzy



The world has gone fiber-crazy.image

There, I said it.

Everywhere you turn, it seems fiber is on the minds of food manufacturers as the latest trend bandwagon. It’s almost as-if conversations behind the scenes go like this:

Food Boss: “We need to sell more units of X Food.”

Food Marketer: “Okay, hmmm…<pregnant pause>. I know! Let’s add fiber! And then tell everyone we added fiber! Fiber is cheap and it’s guaranteed to quadruple our sales and improve our ROI substantially.”

Food Boss: “Genius! I can see my bonus now. Go do it!”

This fiber frenzy really does make a person wonder why we woke up one day and it was decided for us that fiber is the thing that will right all that is wrong with the American diet. I guess when you eat all of your food out of a box, what’s one more added ingredient?

Seriously, does this yogurt even look like food?

image

It looks like that slime that used to rain down on people on that You Can’t Do that on Television show on Nickelodeon. Blech! (I will admit I used to seriously enjoy that show as child…but I digress.)

Instead of harping on all the reasons it is wrong to rely on packaged food for your {added} nutrients, I thought I’d share a few all-natural sources of fiber that may not be on your fiber-radar. Or perhaps fiber-dar?

Now, let it be said that while I try as much as possible to not eat out of a box or bag these days, there are times when I do buy pre-packaged foods. It happens. 2Chili will not give up his Trader Joe’s Mini Wheats, Joe-Joe cookies, or store-bought orange juice, and I don’t ask him to (though, the added sugar in those items makes my teeth want to fall out spontaneously!). But, we don’t buy them for their nutritional value – we buy them because he likes them. There is a difference! I aim for the 80/20 rule – 80% high nutrition, 20% splurge calories.

But, getting back to our fiber issue. The RDA for fiber for a non-senior citizen adult male is 38 grams, and 25 grams for a female. I thought I’d share just how easy that is to meet without buying any of the hype, or relying on prepackaged foods.

And, while I’m sharing, here is a snapshot of a fairly normal day’s nutrient breakdown for me. No day is the same of course, but this is fairly representative. 37 grams of fiber is probably on the low side – I have some days over 50 grams – but my point is that I got here by eating real food, not fiber-supplemented food!

image

Being a data-minded person, I capture my meals in an iPhone app called “Lose It.” I do this to just keep a pulse on where my food calories are going, and to make sure I’m balancing things out appropriately. But, I don’t do it all the time – a couple weeks on, a couple weeks off – just to make sure things are on track.

Finding Fiber in Nature: It’s Not All That Elusive!

The Mayo Clinic has a great resource here that breaks down the fiber content in a variety of whole food sources. It includes the expected fruits, vegetables and legumes — nature’s source of fiber! Some items, such as split peas, have almost your entire day’s RDA in one serving. I highly recommend checking out this chart!

Here are a few highlights to whet your appetite:

  • Raspberries – 8 grams per cup
  • Oatmeal, – 4 grams per cooked cup, 8 grams per uncooked cup
  • Split peas – 16 grams per cooked cup
  • Black beans – 15 grams per cup
  • Broccoli – 5 grams per cup
  • Almonds – 3.5 grams per ounce
  • Apples – 4.4 grams per each

Rather than recreate the Mayo Clinic’s chart in its entirety, here are a few food items that are not on that list but are a relatively good source of fiber that you may not have known about.

1. Cinnamon.image

Really? Really.

One tablespoon of ground cinnamon has 4 grams of dietary fiber. Cinnamon has all kinds of health benefits, too, including help with digestion, a potential positive effect on blood sugar, and possible antibacterial and antifungal properties.

And, it’s tasty. What more could you want?

Throw a tablespoon of cinnamon into your morning oatmeal, and you’re looking at 12 grams of dietary fiber to start your day (assuming one cup of plain oats, before cooking). Add a banana and a tablespoon of almond butter to that mixture, and you’re up to 16 grams and have a well-balance breakfast! 16 grams of fiber is over half the RDA for a woman, and almost half for a man.

How I got those numbers:

  • t tablespoon cinnamon: 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup uncooked oats: 8 grams of fiber
  • 1 banana: 3 grams of fiber
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter: 1 gram of fiber

Here’s the skinny on cinnamon. (Source.)

image

2. Psyllium Husks and Pysllium Husk Powder

Okay, so you probably don’t have psyllium husks or psyllium husk powder in your pantry. But, if you are on a mission to bulk up on fiber and can’t stomach the thought of eating another fruit or veggie, this is a decent option to add fiber – up to 7 grams in a serving — without adding a ton of extra calories to your day. You just stir it into a beverage and you’re on your way…which means you can skip the Metamucil with all its fillers, additives and artificial sweeteners, and just go straight to the active ingredient – pysllium husk!

Here is an interesting snippet from Livestrong.com about Metamucil to prove my point. Note that sucrose is sugar.

“With psyllium as the main ingredient in all Metamucil products, the remaining ingredients are inactive. They are used as coloring, flavoring, binding or preservation agents. Sucrose, FD&C Yellow No. 6 and citric acid are a few of the inactive ingredients. Sucrose is used as a flavoring. FD&C Yellow No. 6 is a coloring agent, giving the powder form its yellow orange color. Citric acid is added as a preservative.”

Why would you want all those preservatives and additives, especially the food coloring? And I am pretty sure no one needs more sugar in their lives! (Another fun fact for a rainy day: The average American eats 150 pounds or more of sugar in a year. That is my body weight in SUGAR!)

Here’s the breakdown on pysllium husk powder. (Source).

image

3. Herbsimage

When I was a kid, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was a song  heard around our house (though it was released before my time).

I had no idea what the words meant back then, but my parents listened to folk music, and so when I think of any of those items nowadays, they are always grouped together in that order!

But, in addition to flowing together well in musical verse, they are also good sources of fiber!

However, the best herbs from a fiber perspective are oregano and coriander seed AKA cilantro seed. Oregano has 1 gram per one teaspoon dried – think about how little one teaspoon of oregano is and you can see the value! Coriander seed has 2 grams per teaspoon.

Here is the breakdown for oregano. (Source).

image

And for coriander seed. (Source).

image

Okay, so that was a fairly long post about a fairly vapid topic, and I applaud you if you made it this far. I really just wanted to illustrate that buying foods with “added” fiber is not necessary. Buying FOOD is necessary. That means fruit, veggies, legumes, and grains. These fun facts about additional high fiber foods were just bonus.

Stay tuned for a great guest post smoothie recipe tomorrow. And, guess what, it’s high in fiber!

Share with friends: