What is a High Fiber Low-Fat Diet?

high fiber low-fat diet

A high fiber low-fat diet is the key to a long and healthy life. You can gain several benefits by adopting a high fiber low-fat diet. Lowering saturated fats and increasing fiber can help to lower cholesterol. Although cholesterol is a vital substance for our bodies, too much LDL cholesterol can cause heart disease.

In excess amounts, LDL cholesterol accumulates in artery walls making them narrower and restricting blood flow. This leads to the risk of increased blood pressure and heart failure. Medical authorities recommend lowering cholesterol to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke which are the leading cause of death, disease and disability. Consumption of high fiber low-fat foods can help you achieve this.

To understand the state of your health, you should get regular checkups, including testing for blood cholesterol levels. You should check your cholesterol at least once a year. Once you get the results, you can compare them with the guidelines provided by the National Cholesterol Education Program. This will show you whether or not you have safe cholesterol levels.

Healthy Cholesterol Range

The numbers shown below show cholesterol levels that are ideal for optimum health. Your cholesterol levels should be within these limits for good health.

  • Total cholesterol should be under 200 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol must be greater than 40 mg/dL
  • LDL cholesterol levels should be under 100 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides should be less than 150 mg/dL

Unsafe Levels

If your cholesterol levels are in the range shown below, then you have excessively high cholesterol. Too much cholesterol can lead to health problems.

  • Total cholesterol greater than 240 mg/dL
  • LDL cholesterol more than 160 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol under 40 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides more than 200 mg/dL

Note that healthy levels of triglycerides are shown in the guidelines above. Triglycerides are an important part of your blood lipid profile. Hence, you should ensure that they are within safe levels for ideal health.

You should also take note that low HDL cholesterol is also dangerous. HDL cholesterol is also known as the good cholesterol. Excessively low HDL cholesterol is a sign of impending health problems much like excess LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

High fiber low-fat Diet for Ideal Cholesterol Levels

The National Institutes of Health has recommended the Therapeutic Lifestyle Diet which is basically a high fiber low-fat diet. Under this diet, your saturated fat intake should comprise no more than 7% of your total daily calories. The dietary cholesterol should be no more than 200 mg per day. This is the cholesterol that comes from food rather than the liver where the substance is normally made.

In the high fiber low-fat diet, fat should account for no more than 25% of the daily calorie intake. The National Institutes of Health also recommends that sodium consumption should be under 2400 mg each day.

Since this is a high fiber low-fat diet, the National Institutes of Health recommends the following in liberal amounts.

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Skinless chicken
  • Fish
  • Olive oil
  • Low fat or fat-free yoghurt
  • 1% or fat-free milk
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Legumes

You should avoid the following high fat foods that can raise your cholesterol levels.

  • Lard
  • Butter
  • Fatty red meat
  • Organ meats
  • Whole milk dairy products including ice cream, yoghurt and cheese
  • Whole milk
  • Bacon
  • Tropical oils such as palm and coconut oil

You should eat these foods as sparingly as possible. You should replace them low fat options. For instance, you can use fat-free or low-fat milk in place of whole milk.

Reducing dietary fat can also help you to keep your weight under control. Fats have more than twice the calories compared to proteins and carbohydrates.

You should eat 3 meals each day. Make sure that you do not skip breakfast. If you want to eat snacks between meals then have high fiber low-fat foods shown above. For instance, instead of a drink of creamy fat laden coffee, you can have an apple.

Another diet that is known to have good effects on your health is the Mediterranean Diet. It is a high fiber low-fat diet at heart. The Mediterranean diet can help you to control your cholesterol levels.

As with the TLC and other high fiber low-fat diets, the Mediterranean diet also calls for plentiful amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Red meat is allowed in small amounts and the consumption of fat is restricted. The Mediterranean diet is healthy for you since it includes plenty of fish as well. Small quantities of red wine are allowed.

Boost Fiber and Trim the Fat

Besides reducing the fat content in your diet, it is also necessary to shore up the fiber content. The American Heart Association recommends high fiber foods to improve your cardiovascular health. You should consume sufficient amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber has strong positive effects on your metabolic health. It is found in high amounts in apple pulp, strawberries, citrus fruits, barley, rice bran, peas, beans, oatmeal and oat bran.

A diet with high amounts of fiber, coupled with low fat foods can help you to bring cholesterol levels under control.

A high fiber low-fat diet emphasizes the lowering of saturated fat consumption. Saturated fats are found in high amounts in cheese, red meat, ice cream and butter. They are also found in high amounts in coconut oil and palm oil. You should eat lower amounts of these foods. If you must eat these foods, then replace them with low-fat versions. For example, instead of having a fatty steak, you can go for lean cuts of red meat.

Instead of tropical oils like coconut and palm oil, you should use oils that have a higher polyunsaturated fat content like sunflower oil. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are also very good for your heart health. Instead of high saturated fat tropical oils, you may also opt for oils that have a higher monounsaturated fat content like canola or olive oil.

By using oils having large amounts of unsaturated fats like sunflower, olive or canola oil, you can reduce your cholesterol levels substantially.

Read the Labels

You should focus on eating fresh produce instead of processed foods. Skinless poultry, fish, cereals and whole grain breads are also better options than processed foods.

If you cannot avoid processed foods altogether, then you should read the labels to find out about the ingredients. The ‘nutrition facts’ label show the amount of saturated fat in the food serving. You should read this information carefully since no more than 25% of your calories should come fat while following the high fiber low-fat diet.

More Fiber

There are several reasons why you should eat more fiber each day. There is plenty of research to show that fiber can help with weight loss, reduce the risk of diabetes, improve heart health and improve your gut health. 

Sadly, the average American eats only 16 grams of fiber each day which is well short of the 28 grams that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend. Other experts recommend even higher amounts of fiber keeping in view the incredible benefits of fiber. These recommendations can go as high as 37 grams which might appear to be quite challenging to achieve on a daily basis. However, with a high fiber low-fat diet, you can achieve this target almost effortlessly every single day. All you need to do is to follow a diet plan that factors in high fiber foods. You will then attain your target and even exceed it. Here is an example of a high fiber low-fat diet plan that can ensure you are consuming enough fiber.

Breakfast – a serving of bran flake cereal (whole grain) together with skim milk and half a banana.

Morning snack – 24 almonds along with raisins amounting to a quarter cup.

Lunch – turkey sandwich having two slices of whole wheat bread as well as tomato, lettuce and an orange.

Afternoon snack – skimmed yoghurt with blueberries (half cup).

Dinner – grilled fish together with shredded carrots, romaine lettuce, half cup of lentils and half cup cooked spinach.

After Dinner Snack – 3 cups of popcorn.

A major benefit of the high fiber low-fat diet is that it is very filling due to the high fiber content. Hence, you are unlikely to overeat and consume excessive calories. Since your fat consumption is also under control, you will not consume too many calories. This will help you with weight loss.

High fiber foods are also great for sustaining high energy levels since they regulate blood pressure. When sufficient amounts of fiber is present in your food, there will be smaller swings in blood sugar levels after you have had a meal. The sudden rise in blood sugar followed by the abrupt crash following a low fiber high carbohydrate meal can leave you exhausted and tired.

You will also be more likely to eat sugary snacks to recover your blood glucose levels. With a high fiber low-fat diet, this scenario is unlikely. You can say goodbye to blood sugar level swings and unhealthy snacks.

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