The Simplest Way to Increase Fiber Is…

Cereal can be the key to a healthier heart and weight.

From Cut Your Cholesterol (Reader's Digest Association)

Woman eating bowl of cerealValueline/Thinkstock
So about now you’re thinking: “Eat 25 grams of fiber? How do they expect me to do that?” Two words: Eat breakfast.

Cereal is perhaps the simplest way to get more fiber into your diet. It may also be a way to lower the fat in your diet. One study found that people who ate two bowls a day of high-fiber cereal cut the amount of fat they ate by 10 percent without even trying.

The only way to know for sure if your cereal is fiber-filled is to read the label. Look for brands that have 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. And ignore claims like “fortified with 11 vitamins and minerals.” (The vitamins are usually sprayed on and provide no more benefit than taking a daily multivitamin.) Some cereals that sound fiber-rich have no more fiber than the milk you pour over it. More breakfast-time tips:

Mix it up. If you think high-fiber cereals taste like the boxes they come in, then mix them with your regular cereal, gradually adding more of the high-fiber cereal and less of the regular stuff.

Go with oats. When researchers at Colorado State University had 36 overweight men eat either an oat or wheat cereal with 14 grams of fiber daily for 12 weeks, those getting the oat cereal had lower levels of the small, very dense LDL cholesterol, and less LDL overall.

Give it a sprinkle. Just 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed sprinkled on your oatmeal boosts its cholesterol-lowering ability like super fuel in a rocket. One study found that 2 tablespoons of ground flax daily cut total cholesterol 9 percent, and LDL 18 percent. Flaxseed is a powerful laxative, so be sure to use it in moderation.

Don’t forgo the bowl. Those cereal bars, says Consumer Reports, are generally no more nutritious than oversized cookies. “Most breakfast bars are high in sugar and have very little fiber, basically giving you the equivalent of a sugary cereal without the milk,” the magazine wrote in a January 1998 article.

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