Charlyn Fargo Ware: Fiber to the Rescue for Disease Prevention | Your Health

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If you could just make one change to your diet to help prevent future diseases, add more fiber.

Here are five diseases that fiber can help prevent:

No. 1: The latest research shows that eating a diet high in fiber from vegetables, fruits and whole grains is associated with a reduced incidence of breast cancer. Based on data from 20 observational studies, women with the highest consumption of fiber had an 8 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared with those who consumed the lowest.

No. 2: That same fiber is the key to diabetes control. Eating high-fiber foods can help keep blood sugar from rising too high and too fast after eating. Fiber takes longer to digest and slows the release of sugar from food into the blood stream.

No. 3: Fiber can also help you lose weight. That’s because fiber helps you feel full by adding bulk to the diet. Typically, high-fiber foods are lower in fat and calories.

No. 4: A high intake of dietary fiber has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber acts like a sponge in the digestive tract, binding cholesterol and removing it from the body before it has a chance to be absorbed.

No. 5: Fiber helps you maintain normal bowel function. It increases the bulk of stools, making them easier to pass and lessening the chance of constipation. A high-fiber diet may lower the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulosis, and it may possibly provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome.

So, how much fiber do you need? Adults (ages 9 and older) need 21 to 38 grams per day. At least 5 to 10 grams should be from soluble fiber. Children (ages 1 to 8) need 19 to 25 grams per day.

The best sources of fiber are from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts, as well as cereals such as oatmeal, Raisin Bran, All-Bran, Kashi and Wheat Chex. Look for cereals with at least 3 to 5 grams of fiber per serving and for bread that contains 2 grams of fiber per serving.

Some other tips to add fiber into your diet:

» Choose whole fruits instead of fruit juice

» Keep raw vegetables in the refrigerator for a quick snack

» Serve chili and other soups bursting with beans and legumes

» Add chia or flax seed to salads, yogurt, smoothies and cereal

» Sprinkle wheat bran on applesauce

» Snack on popcorn or nuts

» Add berries to cereal or yogurt

Q&A

Q: Can consuming dairy help my bones?

A: Drink your milk. Eat a yogurt a day, or have some cheese, especially lower-fat string cheese. Consuming dairy products can increase bone mineral density in healthy postmenopausal women, which may help prevent osteoporosis, according to six reputable studies.

These six studies, which included 618 participants, were included in the meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, published in the March 2020 issue of Archives of Osteoporosis. The researchers found there was a significant association between consumption of dairy products, most of which was milk, and bone mineral density.

Researchers recommend that dairy consumption be considered as an effective health measure to prevent osteoporosis, especially for postmenopausal women.

Grilled Chicken & Cherry Salad

Cherries have to be the epitome of summer, and when early July rolls around, they are usually at their peak. Here’s a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens for a Grilled Chicken & Cherry Salad that is bursting with flavor.

Ingredients

» 4 cups baby kale or baby spinach

» 12 ounces fresh sweet or tart red cherries, pitted and halved (about 2 cups)

» 1 cup small broccoli florets

» 1 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks

» ½ cup thinly sliced red onion

» ¼ cup dried tart red cherries

» ¼ cup roasted, salted sunflower kernels

» ¼ cup mayonnaise

» 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

» 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

» 1 tablespoon lemon juice

» 2 teaspoon sugar

» ¼ teaspoon ground mustard

» 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, grilled and sliced

Directions

In a large bowl, combine greens, fresh cherries, broccoli, carrots, onion, dried cherries and sunflower kernels.

For dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, tarragon, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, mustard and a pinch of ground black pepper. Combine dressing and salad; top with chicken.

Serve immediately, or chill, covered, up to 2 hours.

Details

Serves 6

Per serving: 243 calories; 20 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams fat (2 grams saturated); 63 milligrams cholesterol; 3 grams fiber; 10 grams sugars; 258 milligrams sodium

— Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Ill., and the media representative for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd, or click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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