If you’ve ever wondered how an energy bar has more fiber than a serving of vegetables, the answer is it contains inulin fiber which is found in chicory root. Though we often associate chicory root with New Orleans-style coffee, chicory root, and inulin do not contain caffeine or calories and have a neutral flavor making them easy to incorporate into other foods.
Adding inulin fiber to your diet helps you meet your daily fiber goals, says Sandy Wolner, Pampered Chef’s Food & Trend Innovator and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Here are Sandy’s top three reasons why fiber is such an important nutrient.
1. Fiber Improves Digestion
We’ve all had our doctors (and mothers) tell us to eat more fiber to stay regular. And they’re right; most of us don’t eat the recommended amount of fiber each day. But adding too much at once can cause stomach rumblings, especially those sensitive to fiber. Everyone’s tolerance is different. It’s best to slowly incorporate more fiber while adding more water to your diet at the same time. There are many ways to introduce more fiber such as eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fiber-fortified foods, or adding fiber powder containing inulin to smoothies and other foods you already enjoy.
2. Inulin Improves Gut Health
Inulin is a prebiotic soluble fiber and prebiotics feed the probiotics in our gut, helping maintain a healthy balance of “good” bacteria. Other foods high in inulin include Jerusalem artichokes, underripe bananas, and legumes. Having the right balance of good bacteria is important for keeping your gut healthy and preventing disease.
3. Fiber Helps Improve Overall Health
Fiber can help lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels, and has heart-healthy benefits. Plus, high-fiber foods slow digestion which makes you feel full longer. Adding more fiber to your meals can help with weight loss since high-fiber foods take longer to eat and they have fewer calories for the same amount of food.
We all hear a lot about what we shouldn’t be eating. It’s time to start looking for the foods we can eat more. Foods with fiber are a great addition to family meals.