More Fiber, Less Sugar and Salt, Please

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We recently heard from one of our readers, who mentioned that it’s sometimes difficult to find fiber-rich foods without tons of added sugars or sodium. We agree,  this can sometimes be tricky.

For starters, adult women need about 25 grams of fiber daily, while men require nearly 40 grams of dietary fiber per day for overall health. Diets high in fiber are linked with a lower risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain types of cancer, such as pancreatic cancer.

Fiber is also beneficial in keeping our gut microbiome healthy as well as aiding in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

While trying to make fiber intake convenient and tasty, food manufacturers often add unwanted ingredients, including sugar and sodium. Our insightful reader cited the example of instant oatmeal. That innocent packet includes 3 teaspoons of added sugar and roughly 200 mg of sodium. No thanks.

Similarly, while you can nab 6 grams of fiber in a serving of frosted shredded wheat, you’ll also get 3 teaspoons of sugar in your breakfast.

Fiber-enhanced and/or protein bars are often seen as nutritious but can be like candy bars in disguise. Most bars contain at least 2 to 4 teaspoons of added sugar as well as saturated fat.

Salads can add more fiber to your diet but bottled dressings may contain up to 300 mg of sodium per serving. Hello high blood pressure!

So how can you get more fiber in your diet with less sugar, salt, and fat?

Here are a few tricks:

  1. Read the label. Every 4 grams of added sugar equates to 1 teaspoon. Look for products with 5 grams of sugar or less per serving.
  2. Make your own oatmeal. Choose rolled oats without added sugar. A ½ cup serving takes 2 minutes to cook in the microwave. Season with vanilla, ginger, and cinnamon.
  3. Use low-sodium versions of your favorite condiments like soy sauce and ketchup.
  4. Choose no salt-added canned goods or frozen veggies.
  5. Add beans to your salad instead of lunch meat. Beans add fiber and protein without extra sodium.
  6. Mix half of a serving of frosted shredded wheat with half of a serving of plain shredded wheat. You’ll get all that great fiber but just half the sugar.
  7. Skip the packaged noodles with seasoning packets and try soba noodles instead. These cook in 4 minutes and can be seasoned with green onions, low sodium soy sauce, and ginger.
  8. Make your own energy bars with oats, peanut butter, and dried fruit.
  9. Whisk together apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and a dash of Dijon mustard. Dressing. Done.
  10. Enjoy seasonal or frozen fruit for dessert or a snack.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy your food without added sugar, salt, or fat. It just takes a little imagination and a few fun ingredients.

Ask us more questions. We’d love to hear from you!

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

Free Handout: 10 Ways to Increase Fiber

10 Ways to Increase Fiber More Fiber, Less Sugar and Salt, Please

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