After you swallow a bite of a plant-based food, including grains, vegetables and fruits, your stomach and intestines break down the nutrients in the food into separate components. The sugar, vitamins and minerals pass through the walls of your small intestines and into your bloodstream, but the complex carbohydrates known as fiber stay inside your digestive tract to meet other needs. Soluble fiber, for example, helps control the level of glucose and cholesterol in your blood. Eat an array of plant-based foods throughout the day to boost your soluble fiber intake.
Breakfast foods high in soluble fiber are a great start to your day. Look for whole-grain hot cereals like oatmeal. You can also select a ready-to-eat whole-grain cereal made from bran, or toast a slice of whole-grain bread and top it with 2 tablespoon of crunchy almond or peanut butter. When shopping for whole-grain products, choose cereals with at least 3 to 5 g of fiber per serving and breads that contain at least 2 g per serving.
Salads are a perfect source of soluble fiber. Create a heart-healthy salad by mixing soluble fiber foods, such as chopped or slivered broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, with edible nuts and seeds. Almond or sunflower seeds are great sources of soluble fiber, and a single tablespoon of ground psyllium seeds delivers 5 g of soluble fiber. A fruit salad is an especially tasty source of soluble fiber. Combine orange and grapefruit sections -- keeping their membranes intact -- with chunks of unpeeled apples, pears or peaches for a soluble fiber boost.
Try meatless meals a couple of times a week to replace the saturated fat and cholesterol associated with animal foods. Legumes make a strong choice to provide soluble fiber along with protein. Black-eyed peas, lentils, lima beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and other legumes are packed with soluble fiber. Add rolls or breads made from rye or pumpernickel, which provide even more soluble fiber.
Plan ahead so you have plenty of snack foods that are high in soluble fiber and low in fat and sugar. You can munch on a handful of figs, dates, blackberries or blueberries, or peel a banana and enjoy it as a mid-day snack. Keep snack-size bags of sliced carrots, zucchini and cauliflower close at hand. Look for prepackaged fruit salads that contain cantaloupe, honeydew melon, cherries, grapes, raspberries and strawberries. Alternatively, create your own mix and bring it along to work or school. Sprinkle sunflower seeds, soy nuts or slivered almonds on low-fat yogurt or oatmeal for a soluble fiber boost.
- barley groats porridge in red plate on white image by SPLAV from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.