Bringing Wellness Full Circle

Posts tagged ‘fiber’

Love Flax Seed Yet?

Did you know that just a few pinches of flaxseed added to your favorite foods can make a huge difference in the quality of your diet?

Flax is the plant from which we get linin, but it also has edible seeds and oil and people have been eating it for thousands of years. It has 3 grams fo fiber per tablespoon and has lots of beneficial nutrients including protein. What’s not to like?

When you start adding  more fiber to your diet, lots of good things can start happening, like lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke. The combination of oil and fiber in flaxseed make it an excellent laxative and an effective remedy for sluggish bowels and chronic constipation. Flaxseed contains plant estrogens called lignans. These natural compounds have been found to possess anti-tumor properties and appear to be especially beneficial in reducing the risk of breast and colon cancer. Eating flaxseed is believed to help prevent breast cancer, and now researchers from the University of Toronto found that it also may be useful in the treatment of the disease. As plant estrogens, the lignans in flaxseed can help alleviate some symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, mood swings, joint and muscle pains. That’s a lot of good stuff!

Want more? Flaxseed is a great source of an essential omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid, which cannot be manufactured by the human body, they must be obtained from the diet.consumption of these beneficial fats has been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and decreasing the clotting potential of the blood. The essential fatty acids in flaxseed have been credited with improving symptoms of dry eyes, psoriasis and eczema. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to possess potent anti-inflammatory properties, making flax a popular remedy for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Amazing, isn’t it?

So, are you ready to experiment with Flax? You can buy it at most supermarkets and/or health food stores. Whole flaxseed can be eaten alone or added to other foods, but because the seeds may not be fully digested, other forms may be more beneficial. Ground flaxseed is easier to digest and simple to use. I buy the whole flax seeds and grind them in my coffee maker; it works perfectly. Once ground, you can add a tablespoon or two to hot or cold cereals or to a cup of yogurt. I also add about a quarter-cup of ground flaxseed to recipes, including muffins and breads, as well as meatloaf, chili and casseroles.

Flaxseed oil is best used as an ingredient in cold preparations, such as salad dressings and smoothies. While the oil is a good source of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, it doesn’t have the protein that you find in the seeds.

Want a recipe?

Savory Muffins

I made these ones up years ago and still enjoy them today.

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 cups wheat bran

1 cup oat bran 2 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Italian seasonings

¼ cup flaxseeds

2 egg whites

1 cup skim milk and 2 tablespoons vinegar Nonstick cooking spray DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together milk and vinegar; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree and egg whites.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, wheat and oat bran, salt and Italian Seasoning.  Stir in milk and vinegar mixture.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cups.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until springy to the touch and lightly browned. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

12 Servings, 109 Calories, 2.6 g Fat, 22.5 g Carbohydrates, 7.6 g Fiber and 6.3 g Protein


Glycemic Index

 In the past we have addressed carbohydrates and their effect on insulin production in the body.   

It is very important to understand and remember that diets high in processed sugars have been clearly shown to produce insulin resistance, which is primarily developed as a result of the fast absorption of simple sugars.  If you start your day with a high-glycemic load, you are going to have cravings all day long.  Complex carbs found in fruits and veggies don’t have the same quick, deleterious effect on insulin levels.  Low-glycemic carbs are absorbed slowly and raise the blood sugar levels slowly and steadily, and insulin levels rise only high enough to push glucose into the cells where it is burned as energy. Studies have shown that regular lower GI choices cause you to snack on lower calorie choices, give you energy, keep you feeling full and cause your metabolic rate to not slow down too much!

The glycemic index of a food refers to the rate at which foods cause glucose (sugar, which all carbs turn into) to rise in the blood.  The higher the glycemic index, the faster that food converts into blood sugar, so the more your body has to make insulin and the harder it is to bring your insulin level into balance. Many other factors come into play, including the amount of protein, fat and fiber eaten with the carbohydrates and the cooking and processing methods, so we have to always remember that the whole diet  counts, not just the individual foods. Yet as you become aware of the GI of the foods you eat, you can tweak some of what you eat to your advantage so you avoid the spike in blood sugar and therefore the rush of insulin that causes you to eat more calories still. Try to avoid mostly carbohydrate meals or starches without any fiber and select a balanced diet from a variety of foods, with a focus on nutrient-dense vegetables, fruit, low fat dairy, and lean proteins, we will naturally have a lower glycemic load.

The glycemic index number is determined in part by the speed with which we eat and digest. The faster the sugars/starches are processed and absorbed in the bloodstream, the fatter we get; anything that speeds the process of digesting carbs is not recommended and anything that slows it down is great!  Digestion breaks the food down; anything that keeps the food intact longer is beneficial to us. So, raw broccoli is better than cooked broccoli for example.  In processed foods, the marketing people already digest it somehow for us: white bread hits the bloodstream like white sugar from the sugar bowl!  On the other hand, old-fashion coarse bread puts the stomach to work.

Three basic truths:

1.The more the food is preprocessed, the more fattening it will be

2.Fiber delays the stomach’s effort to get at the sugars and starches in carbohydrates.

3. Fat and protein also delay the stomach’s effort to get at the sugars and starches in carbs, so adding a bit of protein and good fat to your carbs is beneficial—almond butter with the bread for example—because you will then make less insulin and reduce the cravings for more food later.

The bottom line is simple: If there isn’t any surge of blood sugar, the pancreas doesn’t produce as much insulin and we don’t get the exaggerated cravings for more carbs. Learn to eat foods that cause a gradual increase/ decrease in blood sugar and anticipate hypoglycemia, averting it with timely snacks.


~Fruits’ sugar, called fructose, have a lower glycemic index than table sugar.  Mixed with fiber, fructose is acceptable; without the fiber, it could hurt you, so keep the fruit whole and unpeeled if possible, and avoid juices.

~Maltose, the sugar in beer, has a higher glycemic index than white bread (bad!).  Insulin response to it leads to fat storage in the abdomen—“beer belly.”

~Metamucil with water is a neat solution 15 minutes before eating to lower glycemic load of a meal.

Chickpea Stew

My friend from Ghana gave me this recipe for Chickpea Stew, and I can never get enough of it, and it is super-healthy.  Maybe you’ll like it as much as I do!

I buy dry chickpeas in the bag, but you can buy them in the can and rinse/drain them.  The way I make this:

1 pound of dried chickpeas

2 big onions, diced

5 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

2 T olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Large can of diced tomatoes


Soak the chickpeas overnight, then cook until tender (a couple of hours). Drain.  In large pot, warm olive oil. Add onions, garlic, salt and pepper and let onion soften.  Add 2 cups of chickpeas and let flavors mix.  Add undrained can of diced tomatoes and simmer until liquid is evaporated, 30 to 60 minutes.


This is delicious as is.  If you desire, add a can of tuna on top.  I have done it with smoked salmon on top and it was delicious!

You will have a bunch of leftover chickpeas.  I use them to make NEWAY hummus, chili and/or chickpea chocolate chip cake.

Linking up with Tasty Tuesday


Fiber anyone?

Everyone talks about it, but what is fiber anyway?

The Food and Nutrition Board assembled a panel that came up with the following definitions:

Dietary fiber consists of nondigestible carbohydrates and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants. This includes plant nonstarch polysaccharides (for example, cellulose, pectin, gums, hemicellulose, and fibers contained in oat and wheat bran), oligosaccharides, lignin, and some resistant starch.

Functional fiber consists of isolated, nondigestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects in humans. This includes nondigestible plant (for example, resistant starch, pectin, and gums), chitin, chitosan, or commercially produced (for example, resistant starch, polydextrose, inulin, and indigestible dextrins) carbohydrates.

Total fiber is the sum of dietary fiber and functional fiber.

Fiber is also referred to as bulk or roughage; no matter what you call it, fiber is an essential part of everyone’s diet. While fiber does fall under the category of carbohydrates, it does not provide the same number of calories, nor is it processed the way that other sources of carbohydrates are.

This difference can be seen in two categories that fiber is divided into:

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. Sources of soluble fiber are oats, legumes (beans, peas, and soybeans), apples, bananas, berries, barely, some vegetables, and psylluim.  It is like a sponge soaking up bad cholesterol (LDL).

Insoluble fiber increases the movement of material through your digestive tract and increases your stool bulk. Sources of insoluble fiber are whole wheat foods, bran, nuts, seeds, and the skin of some fruits and vegetables.  It is like a broom scraping away waste.

All fiber slows down the digestion of food and therefore is very satisfying.  Eat it up!

Some ways of increasing fiber in your diet:

~Eat the skin: most of the fiber of apples, pears or potatoes is in the skin!

~Read the nutritional labels!

~Choose breads that have at least 4 g of fiber per serving

~Cook veggies briefly; the longer they cook ,the more fiber they lose.

The higher the fiber content of a single food or a meal in total, the harder and longer the body has to work to digest it, which is a weight loss advantage in three ways: (1) the body burns more calories just digesting your food, (2) you stay full longer, and (3) your appetite is reduced because as the absorption slows down, so does the rate at which the blood sugar rises and falls.


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