I’m often called upon to comment — on longevity foods, brain-boosting foods, cancer-fighting foods — the topics of my books. But, fiber? Not my usual. And not the sexiest food topic! We hear the word “fiber” and think sawdust or dry cereals that taste like cardboard, right?
Au contraire! As I told the producer who asked me to comment on fiber for a television show last winter, fiber-rich foods can be some of the most sensuous foods we eat. Think avocados… nibbling on pistachios… a beautiful bowl of red raspberries… all distinctly pleasurable AND rich sources of fiber.
And how important is it? Fiber controls blood sugar and cholesterol. It’s key for healthy digestion and elimination. Fiber-rich foods tend to be very high in antioxidants, are anti-inflammatory AND act like little vacuum cleaners, helping sweep away the debris that collects in our bodies. This clean up is critical to prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and for brain health. A very BIG basic, my friends.
How much fiber should you eat?
You’re aiming for 25 grams of fiber a day. Great options:
½ an avocado: 5 grams
1 cup blueberries: 3.5 grams
1 cup blackberries: 7.5 grams
1 cup raspberries: 8 grams
2 dates: 3.2 grams
¼ cup pistachios: 3.5 grams
1 cup Brussels sprouts: 4 grams
1 small orange: 3 grams
1 cup fennel: 3 grams
1 cup cabbage: 2 grams
¼ cup almonds: 4 grams
Convinced? Try some of my delicious, fiber-rich recipes.
As a kid, I remember the Ladies Who Lunch coming over to the house regularly to play canasta or mah-jongg. On these occasions, my mom showed me how you could use a fruit as a bowl for salad: she’d serve the pearled grand dames tomatoes stuffed with chicken salad, which was the inspiration for this dish. I’ve gone for a different mode of transport—an avocado boat—and jazzed up the salad as well. No mayo here, but lime juice, cumin, coriander, jalapeño (za-zing!), olive oil, and avocado provide the diving pond for the shrimp. Little boats brimming with healthy fiber AND flavor to enchant. I think the Ladies Who Lunch would’ve approved.
Don’t think you’re in love with Brussels sprouts? THINK AGAIN. After considerable experimentation, trial and error in my kitchen, I learned that roasting is the key to creating a golden-brown, sweet-tasting, crunchy treat.
People often tell me that they love salad but get bored with the same old version they always make. If that sounds like you, let this salad serve as a springboard for endless seasonal variations! Eating with the seasons isn’t just a catchphrase. Watch for new foods just hitting their peak, in this case strawberries and arugula, those welcome harbingers of spring. Strawberries have both an incredibly sweet taste AND anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. With mint, a lemony balsamic vinaigrette, with the delicious crunch (and fiber!) of almonds, too, this salad will wake your taste buds right up!
And thus endeth my lesson: fiber is super healthy and important and FUN! And clearly, eating lots and LOTS of vegetables is the key to winning the food as medicine game. Just like our moms and grandmothers said: eat more vegetables! But, as I often teach, good nutrition and great taste don’t need to sit on opposite sides of the table. Healthy food can taste GREAT!
I rest my case.