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woman-looking-at-saladYou know all about the health benefits of fiber—but are you getting enough of this important nutrient on your plate each day? Probably not, according to a recent study from the University of Minnesota that reveals most U.S. adults and children are still not getting enough fiber in their daily diets. In fact, while you should be getting at least 35 grams of fiber daily for optimal health, the average American consumes only about 15 grams each day, say researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Here are 3 good reasons to gobble up more high-fiber foods:

  1. Your Heart. Consuming more high-fiber foods is important for a healthy heart. Studies have shown that an increase in dietary fiber promotes healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels—both of which support overall heart health. In addition, fiber supports healthy blood pressure by slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates during the digestive process to ensure insulin levels rise gradually and blood pressure stays within the normal range.
  2. Your Tummy. Studies show a healthy balance of soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet supports healthy digestive function and elimination. The combination provides needed bulk to the diet, helping to capture toxins and waste in the intestines and “sweep” them from body via healthy bowel movements. Fiber also helps tone the bowel muscles by creating resistance and promoting peristalsis (the wave-like contractions that move food through your intestines).
  3. Your Waistline. Did you know fiber plays an important role in helping you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight? Fiber-rich foods promote healthy blood sugar and help you feel full longer after eating, plus fiber stimulates a powerful anti-hunger hormone in the body called cholecystokinin (CCK) to help prevent overeating. Foods high in fiber also help to “flush” unused calories from the body blocking their absorption and eliminating them via the stool. According to experts, it’s possible to flush away up to 7 calories for every gram of fiber you eat!

Consuming more non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits is the best way to increase your daily fiber intake, but if you’re still having a hard time reaching 35 grams a day, add a high-quality fiber supplement with a balanced ratio of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Flaxseed, oat fiber and acacia fiber are great options.

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woman-eating-friesHave you ever stopped for a cheeseburger on your way home from a stressful day at work? Or reached for a bag of greasy chips when the pressure was just too much? It turns out your waistline may have suffered the consequences—particularly if you’re a woman.

A new study out of Ohio State University reveals that women who load up on high-fat, high-calorie foods when stress levels are high actually burn fewer calories and increase their risk of weight gain over time. From what scientists could tell, stressful events caused a spike in insulin, which in turn caused the women to store more fat instead of using it as fuel.

The study involved nearly 60 middle-aged women, and each was questioned about her individual stress level before consuming a meal consisting of 930 calories and 60 grams of fat. The participants were then monitored for seven hours after the meal, and it was determined that the women who reported being stressed burned 104 fewer calories than those who weren’t—a difference that could result in almost 11 extra pounds a year, said researchers.

And when stressful events were combined with existing depression? Researchers found that blood triglyceride levels jumped even higher, putting the women at a greater risk for heart disease. Interestingly, the study results were the same in women who received a meal containing saturated fat and those who consumed a “healthier” version with high-oleic sunflower oil.

Said Ohio State nutritionist and study co-author Martha Belury, “We know we can’t always avoid stressors in our life, but one thing we can do to prepare for that is to have healthy food choices in our refrigerators and cabinets so that when those stressors come up, we can reach for something healthy rather than going to a very convenient but high-fat choice.”

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