We all know our bodies need calcium for bones, vitamin C to fend off colds, and chocolate to save relationships. But when it comes to losing weight, the nutritional information is a little more confusing.
The mighty trilogy of nutrients—protein, carbohydrates and fat—garners most of the diet industry's attention, but it's becoming much more clear that fiber needs to be the fourth leg of the dietary table.
Study after study shows that not only does fiber help lower your risk of cancer, heart attack and high blood pressure, but it also keeps you full and helps you decrease the total amount of calories you consume every day. Trouble is, most of us think that getting the recommended 30 grams of fiber a day means eating cereal that tastes like the box it comes in. But that's not the case; you can sneak fiber into your diet anywhere.
Spice up your eggs: One-third of a cup of chopped onion and one clove of garlic will add 1 gram of fiber to scrambled eggs. Or fold the eggs omelet-style over 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli for an additional 2 grams of fiber.
Flavor Your Morning Smoothie: Drop a whole orange into the blender. One peeled orange has nearly 3 grams more fiber than even the pulpiest orange juice.
Fill your glass with nectar: Nectar is apricot, peach, pear or papaya juice, mixed with fiber-rich pulp. It packs more than 1 gram of fiber per 8-ounce glass.
Instead of oatmeal, heat up a bowl of oat bran. It has nearly 2 grams more fiber. Add even more flavor and fiber by stirring in 1/4 cup of raisins or chopped dates before nuking it.
Sprinkle ground flaxseed over your favorite cold cereal.Or stir a few spoonfuls into a cup of yogurt. Two tablespoons equals close to an extra 2 grams of fiber.
Grab an Asian pear. Similar in taste to other pears, the red-colored Asian variety has an apple-like crispness and shape, and it delivers significantly more fiber—4 grams per pear.
Buy spreadable fiber, like almond butter. Put some healthy nut butter on your whole-wheat toast. Two tablespoons adds 2 grams of fiber, along with a healthy dose of heart-healhty fats and vitamins like E.
Whip up a pack of hot-chocolate mix. For a caffeine fix, make hot chocolate instead of that second cup of coffee. Most instant-cocoa mixes have as much as 3 grams of fiber per cup.
Don't like whole wheat? Make your sandwiches with rye bread. One slice has almost 2 grams of fiber—twice the amount found in white bread.
Opt for burritos instead of tacos. Flour tortillas have more fiber than taco shells. Even better, make the burrito whole wheat for still more fiber per serving. Now, order that burrito with meat and beans instead of meat alone. Half a cup of beans adds 6 grams of fiber to your meal.
Stow some microwavable soup in your desk.This way, you'll have a healthy meal when you need to work through lunch. Lentil, chili with beans, ham and bean, and black bean each have between 6 and 10 grams of fiber per cup.
Shower your pizza with oregano or basil. A teaspoon of either spice adds 1 gram of fiber. Order it with mushrooms and you'll get an additional gram of fiber.
Build your burger with a sesame-seed bun. Sesame seeds add 1/2 gram of fiber per burger.
Order your hot dog with sauerkraut. Every 1/4 cup you pile on adds close to 1 gram of fiber to your frank.