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Fiber Magic

 

 

 

I ain't gonna lie -- I love me some carbs!

 

I know carb reduction is key for diabetes control, among other health benefits, but I'm not going to throw all carbs out the window. There are some that are better than others. The term "healthy or complex carbs" are used to describe these foods.

 

What exactly does that mean?  Healthy or complex carbs are the whole, real plant foods found in nature that are not only high in vitamins and minerals, but are packed with fiber.

 

The dictionary definition for fiber:

"dietary material containing substances such as cellulose, lignin, and pectin, which are resistant to the action of digestive enzymes."

 

We call it roughage or bulk.  I don't want to bore you with all the details, but there are 2 types of fiber: soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (promotes movement of food through GI tract).  Both are equally good and most foods are a combination of the two.  It's included as part of the total carbohydrate that is listed on a food label. 

 

Now for the "magic" -- When eating high fiber foods you chew more, eat slower and save calories in the long run.  There is also this other magic that comes with fiber.

 

Meet NET CARBS 

 

Net carbs are the grams of carbohydrate in a food portion minus the grams of fiber. Because the body can’t digest the fiber, which is a carbohydrate, it doesn’t raise the sugar like other carbs.

 

Voila! – eat a nice size serving of a carb food without the spike of blood sugar, save a few calories and even poop better, I might add.

 

Here's an example of some of my favorites:

 

Nature’s Path Organic Smart Bran with 24 gm total carb in 1⁄2 cup serving, 13 gm dietary fiber, 24 minus 13 will give you just 11 gm of digestible carb that will affect the BG.

 

Organic Psyllium Husk with 10 gm total carbohydrate in 2 tablespoon serving, 10 gm dietary fiber, that leaves ZERO carbs.

 

Unprocessed Wheat Bran with 10 gm carb in 1⁄4 cup serving, 7 gm dietary fiber, net carbs 3 gm. I add this to my steel cut oatmeal for a great breakfast.

 

Beans/Legumes - these include pinto beans, black beans, garbanzos, lentils and other legumes. Once cup cooked has ~40 gm carb,15 gm fiber, net carbs 25 gm.

 

Check food labels -- all the information is there: portion size, grams of total carbs, grams of dietary fiber. Do the math. What a great thing!

 

 

Now let's look at foods that don't come with a label -- fresh produce -- fruits and vegetables at the farmer's markets and around the perimeter of grocery stores. Overall, most fruits and veggies are great sources but here are some stand-outs:

 

  • Acorn Squash    9 gm/cup baked

  • Artichokes    10.3 gm/med veg

  • Asian Pear    9.9 gm/med fruit

  • Avocado     6.7 gm/1/2, raw

  • Blackberries   7.6 gm/cup

  • Broccoli   5.1 gm/cup cooked

  • Brussel Sprouts   4.1 gm/cup cooked

  • Figs   14.6 gm/cup

  • Coconut    7.2 gm/cup

  • Okra   8.2 gm/cup

  • Pears   5.5 gm/med fruit

  • Raspberries   8 gm/cup

 

How much fiber to include on a daily basis?

 

25-35 gm daily is a good target to aim for.  If this is not where you are, add fiber slowly to daily food routine, being sure to drink enough water to avoid constipation.  Gradually work up to the goal, maybe every other day, until you are used to it.  After continuing this, it will become a daily habit and you won't  feel good without it.

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