Thanks to a sponsorship by Tillamook County Wellness partner, Oregon Dairy & Nutrition Council, we are featuring an article and recipe from Judy Barbe, author, columnist and nutrition expert. As a registered dietician nutritionist and food enthusiast, Judy offers realistic food solutions to help people “live their best.”

Q. What can you eat to help maintain a healthy weight, reduce blood pressure, improve blood cholesterol levels, and keep your digestion moving smoothly?

A. Fiber.

It’s a super hero!!

Fiber has powerful health benefits. Best known for helping to move food through your body, but this is only one way fiber contributes to good health.

Fiber helps you feel full longer. This can help with weight control. Bye bye snack attack.

Fiber helps fight heart disease by lowering cholesterol.

Fiber helps keep blood sugar stable.

Fiber acts like a broom. A big help in preventing constipation and hemorrhoids.

People who eat high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are less likely to develop certain types of cancer.

Where do you find fiber?

Fiber is found in plant foods. Beans, nuts, seeds, cereals, fruits and vegetables are the best sources. I want you to spread your fiber wings and try lots of different fiber-filled foods. Fiber isn’t just twigs and branches. It really can be delicious eating.

How Much Fiber?

The daily goal for fiber is 20 to 38 grams for adults 50 and younger. For those over 50, women need 22 grams per day and men 28. No need to quibble over a few grams, but the bottom line is for most Americans it’s a stretch to come close to even half the recommended amount.

Use the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredient list to choose good or excellent sources of dietary fiber.

Good sources of fiber are at least 3 grams, or 10 to 19% of the Daily Value per serving

Excellent sources of dietary fiber are at least 5 grams or 20% or more of the Daily Value

10 ways to help you boost fiber

Choose a cereal with 4 grams of fiber per serving. Add a sliced banana for 3 more grams.

Add extra vegetables to spaghetti sauce such as mushrooms, zucchini, carrots or sweet potato. Add vegetables to noodle dishes like Korean Noodles, casseroles and dips. Artichoke Jalapeno Dip.

Start strong at breakfast. You’ll get more fiber from whole-grains (oats or bran flakes), fruits and vegetables than from French toast and bacon. Try Berry Baked Oatmeal.

Order extra vegetables on whatever you can.

Order split pea soup, lentil soup, black bean soup or beans and rice. All are fiber-rich!

When practical, eat the skin on fruits and vegetables (but do rinse them with water). A medium apple with peel = 4 grams fiber, ½ cup applesauce  = 1 gram fiber, apple juice = 0.

Add vegetables, fruit, hemp seeds, ground flax, oats, or beans to smoothies for a fiber boost. Sip a Cherry Almond Amaranth Smoothie.

Speaking of beans, eat beans more often. Beans are one of the best sources of fiber. Make a bean dip or use them in soups, salads, and casseroles like this One-Pot Baked Chicken Greek Stew.

Cook a whole grain such as spelt, quinoa or bulgur to add to salads, soups or yogurt parfaits.

Make Greek Salad with lettuce with garbanzo beans, tuna, olives, capers, cucumber, tomato, red onion and feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Sip More

As you increase fiber, you also need more fluids to help process the added fiber.

Enjoy coffee, latte, tea or water in the morning.

Keep a cup or water bottle at your desk.

Pack a water bottle while on the road or in meetings all day.

Coconut Fruit Tart is a nice slice to wake up my taste buds and change up my breakfast groove. Bran flakes in a crunchy walnut crust and fruit boost the fiber.

3 cups bran flakes, crumbled

3 tablespoons butter, melted

½ cup chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 eggs, room temperature

2 cups plain yogurt

½ cup shredded coconut (I prefer unsweetened, but sweetened works)

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

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