Fiber: BFF To Your Health

Seems like Fiber is IN lately, but what exactly is fiber?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant products. I know carbohydrates are on the OUTS, but fiber is an important type of carbohydrate that is one of the keys to good health. There are two types based on water solubility. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forms a gel-like material, and is found mainly in oats, apples, citrus, peas, barley, pectin, flaxseed, and beans. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat flour, wheat bran, cellulose, lignin, nuts, and many vegetables.

Did you know that Dietary Fiber can reduce cholesterol? Regular consumption can reduce cholesterol, specifically, LDL or low density lipoprotein cholesterol.  

High levels of LDL can be a big risk factor in Cardiovascular disease, in particular coronary artery disease which is the leading cause of death in both men and women of all racial groups in the United States (Mayo Clin Proc. 2009 April; 84(4): 345–352).  

 

However, it’s important to understand that the effects of fiber on blood cholesterol are not the same. Only soluble fiber can reduce cholesterol.  Insoluble fiber has not been shown to improve LDL-cholesterol. If you say that you eat enough fiber, you should also know which type of this carbohydrate you are eating.

 

Dietary fiber can also have a positive effect on blood sugar level. The consumption of soluble fiber not only decreases LDL cholesterol but also decreases blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in the bloodstream can cause long-term damage to body tissues. For example, it can harm blood vessels that supply blood to vital organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.

Soluble fiber is good for cholesterol and lower blood sugar.

Insoluble fiber is good for regular bowel movements. Yea, I know. Butt someone had to tell you.

Water Soluble (Good for Lowering Cholesterol) 

  1. Oats
  2. Apples
  3. Citrus
  4. Peas
  5. Barley
  6. Flaxseed
  7. Beans

Water Insoluble (Good for Bowel Movement)

  1. Whole Wheat Flour
  2. Wheat Bran
  3. Nuts
  4. Vegetables

 

Does fiber has any side effects? Well, almost everything we consume has side effects and fiber is not too different. Fiber could cause bloating and also may interfere with the absorption of minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium.

Fiber is like a BFF to your health. The recommended daily consumption of 25-30 g daily is called for by the American Heart Association. Don’t forget that about 10 g of the 25-30 g should be soluble and the rest insoluble fiber.

Apples – Happy Johnny Appleseed Day

I thought I would write a quick article about apples today, because everyone knows that today is Johnny Appleseed Day, right?

So as I started to do a little research, I Googled facts about the apple. After weeding through all the websites wanting to give me information on I-phones, and I-pads, and Apple computers, I found some great info.

Did you know that apples are members of the rose family? The apple’s cousins include roses, pears, plums, peaches and raspberries.

Right now there are over 7500 types of apples in the world, they have been cultivated from the most ancient times and have spread around the world to anyplace with the right climate. Apples need a cooler climate with a period of freezing temperatures to bear fruit.

An article about apples would be remiss if it didn’t mention that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”— and Cancer, and Asthma, and Constipation, and Heart Disease and the Dentist, and the Dermatologist, and even Diabetes

1. Apples contain quercetin, an anti-oxidant that helps to prevent cell damage in the body that can lead to cancer.

2. Apples are full of fiber; a medium size apple has 4 grams of fiber (.7 g per oz.)

3. The insoluble fiber helps the digestive tract by holding water to clean intestines and provide bulk.

4. The soluble fiber Pectin helps reduce cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessels, reducing the risk of heart disease.

5. The acidity of an apple helps keep your breath fresh and that crunchy bite helps keep strong teeth.

6. Choose an apple as a snack and the sugars combined with fiber and complex carbs help avoid the sugar spike you would get from a sugary snack.

Apple Varieties courtesy of http://www.orangepippin.com/apples

Braeburn (Available mid-August through September) Gold to green skin with a partial red blush. Braeburns are sweet, tart, crisp, and juicy good for fresh out of hand and salads.

Cameo® (Available October through August) Pleasantly sweet and tart flavor with firm texture. Color is red stripe over a creamy background. Excellent dessert apple.

Criterion (Available October through March) Juicy and very sweet bright yellow often with a red blush. The flesh resists browning after cutting. Criterion is a good choice for salads and cut fruit.

Elstar (Available September through March) The Elstar is bright red and yellow with a flavor that’s sweet and tart. The Elstar retains is perfect in fruit trays, for snacking and also applesauce.

FUJI (Available late September through March) Fujis are juicy, sweet, and crisp. These firm fleshed apples are delicious fresh out of hand or in a salad Fuji varies from yellow-green with red highlights to very red.

GALA (Available August through March) these sweet, crisp apples have a creamy yellow color with a red blush. Galas are ideal fresh out of hand, for salads and apple sauce.

GOLDEN DELICIOUS These are sweet, mellow not too tart flavored with thin delicate skin and firm flesh that retains its shape excellent for snacking and cooking.

GRANNY SMITH (Available late August through May) Great to eat as a snack, it’s tart and tangy. Ideal to bake or sauté, they retain their shape well. They even freeze well. Bright green with a pink blush

JAZZ™ (Available autumn through spring from Washington and the rest of the year from New Zealand) Jazz is a recent hybrid developed in New Zealand combining the Royal Gala and the Braeburn. JAZZ™ is now grown in Washington, New Zealand, France and Chile.

 

JONAGOLD (Available September through April) Sweet and tart this apple blends Jonathan and Golden Delicious. With a yellow-green base and a blush stripe, Jonagold is excellent both for eating fresh and for cooking.

JONATHAN (Available August through November) Deep red color with a pale yellow blush.

NEWTOWN PIPPIN (Available September through June) Bright green often with yellow highlights. Its tangy flesh makes the Newtown an excellent choice for pies and applesauce.

PINK LADY Sweet-tart taste. Flesh is firm and crisp. Skin is pink blush over yellow. Good for eating out of hand and cooking.

REDLOVE Was introduced in June 2010 and it is spectacular! (At least in pictures) Rosy-red flesh with a beautiful pattern running through it. Crisp and juicy fruit with a hint of berries. Delicious eaten raw but also ideal for cooking – it retains its red color! Higher in antioxidants than other apples. This apple is not on store shelves yet and will show up first in Britain where it was developed. Growers say it will be available to buy in summer 2011. For now you will have to buy a sapling and try to get it into this country. Redlove was developed using good old fashioned cross breeding techniques not genetic manipulation so it is safe to eat. The Redlove is the result of 20 years of painstaking work by Markus Kobert, a Swiss fruit grower. For more info see http://www.suttons.co.uk/

RED DELICIOUS (Available year-round) Crisp, sweet and juicy and the perfect snack food. Red Delicious apples are good in salads but when too far out of season they tend to get pithy. One of the most popular apples the markets seem to have Red Delicious always available.

ROME BEAUTY (Available September through July) These apples which are also known as Red Rome are firm and slightly tart. Perfect for baking.

WINESAP (Available October through August.) The Winesap has a spicy, tart, almost wine-like flavor that gives it its name and makes it the cider maker’s first choice. Violet red in color, it’s great as a snack and in salads

Of course an apple is not going to prevent any disease, but as part of a healthy diet it is going to help. So go crunch, munch, and enjoy an apple today… and every day!

 

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