The results of a study published in the British Medical Journal further emphasizes the importance of fiber in our diets.
Researchers analyzed the results of 22 cohort studies and discovered that for every 7 grams of fiber consumed per day reduces the risk of first cardiovascular events. Cereal and vegetable fiber were shown to reduce both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease; fruit fiber reduces cardiovascular disease risk. Some of the studies revealed a greater association between insoluble fiber and cardiovascular risk than between soluble fiber and risk.
Soluble vs Insoluble
If you’re like me you probably aren’t sure what the difference is between the two types of fiber, but the short answer is that soluble fiber dissolves in water, insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fiber digests more slowly, which means it helps you feel fuller longer, thus helping weight management. Insoluble fiber acts more like a laxative, reducing constipation.
Sources of soluble fiber include:
Insoluble is found in:
- whole grains
- wheat bran
- dark leafy vegetables
- root vegetable skins
- fruit skins
Men should consume between 30-38 grams of fiber per day, while women should eat 21-25 grams – most Americans consume only about half of that amount.
But it would likely behoove us to make more of an effort to eat more fiber, as the benefits go beyond reducing cardiovascular risk. Numerous studies have shown that fiber reduces “bad cholesterol,” stabilizes blood sugar, reduces constipation and the risk of diverticular diseases. Oatmeal has been proven to help lower blood pressure.
And if you don’t particularly care for cereal ( I don’t), there’s good news about oatmeal — it can easily be substituted for rice in many instances. Here’s an abbreviated version of a recipe recently published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that uses oatmeal in place of rice:
Three-Pepper Oat Pilaf
- 1/2 cup each red and yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 TBS Olive oil
- 1 3/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats, uncooked
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 2 tsp. dried basil
In a 10-inch skillet saute peppers, mushrooms, green onions and garlic in oil until crisp-tender.In a large bowl, mix oats and egg until oats are evenly coated. Add oats to vegetable mixture in skillet
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until oats are dry and separated, about 5-6 minutes. Add broth, basil, salt and pepper. Continue cooking stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Serve immediately.