It's the beginning of the new year and the most popular resolution on the books is to lose weight. While dieting and signing up for the gym is a great start, there's one secret weapon that will get your weight loss journey on the right foot and that's fiber.
Found in a variety of foods like beans, legumes, and grains, fiber has many health benefits including aiding in a lower cholesterol, slowing down sugar absorption, decreasing risk of heart disease, lowering blood pressure and aiding in weight management. In a recent medical study in Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School studied how fiber can make people feel more full, which in turn leads to eating less.
For research, 240 participants took part in the study, half of them eating foods from the American Heart Association (AHA) diet and asked to eat fewer calories and limit saturated fat. The other group was simply asked to eat a high-fiber diet, which is about 30 grams of fiber per day.
After a year both groups lost the same amount of weight and both groups had their cholesterol levels drop. In essence, if you would increase the fiber in your diet, you don't have to worry about counting calories.
Increasing your fiber intake is a lot easier than it sounds. You can find fiber in almost all fruits and vegetables, including apples, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and even certain brands of Greek yogurt.
While you can take fiber supplements, we highly recommend getting your dietary fiber from whole foods. In fact, here are five recipes that make healthy eating delicious.
1. Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup
Navy beans are the number one food if you are looking to up your fiber intake. This heart health soup is packed with navy beans, veggies such as carrots and onions and seasoned with paprika, thyme and rosemary.
The recipe takes about eight hours in the slow cooker so get this going in the morning for a delicious and heart-healthy dinner. Get the recipe here.
2. Acorn Squash with Kale and Sausage
This quick and simple dinner is made with halved acorn squash, hot Italian turkey sausage and kale. As an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, you'll feel great after taking a bite of this meal.
The broiling of the panko, walnuts and parmesan really make this dish shine. Get the recipe here.
3. Fresh Black Bean Salad
A snap to prepare and great to keep in the fridge, this black bean salad is filled with fiber. You can either eat it alone, with some chips as a salsa, or even on a piece of chicken as a garnish.
4. Chia Seed Pudding
Yes, desserts can be healthy and filled with 4.1 grams of fiber per tablespoon. That's a lot!
This is a basic recipe for chia seed pudding, but you can add whatever fruits you would like to make it your own. We recommend making it the night before so the pudding has time to set up.
5. Homemade Raspberry Breakfast Bars
With 8 grams of fiber per cup, raspberries are a great idea when you are looking to achieve a healthy weight. This breakfast recipe also includes oats which are also high in fiber.
Make these the night before so they are all ready for you the next morning.