Nancy Dell: Foods with added fiber; Mint health benefits

1. So many foods have added fiber.  Is this fiber beneficial?
Summer, Internet

Fiber is added to everything from brownies to pasta these days, but all fiber is not created equal. We know people who eat fiber from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and 100 percent whole grains stay fuller longer and are leaner than people who eat refined foods.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota did a few studies to see if foods like juice, protein bars, and white breads with added fiber have the same filling power. The researchers gave people breakfasts with whole foods like oatmeal, blueberries and nuts or a breakfast with the same calories, fat, protein, carbohydrate and fiber but the fiber was a type of processed fiber.

People felt fuller on the whole foods and only 1 type of added fiber seemed to reduce hunger. That type is called resistant starch usually made from beans and found in some brands of pasta.

So the bottom line is this – don’t assume that a high fiber food with added fiber will help you eat less.  Try to eat whole foods like we find in nature most often.

2. I have lots of mint growing in my yard.  What are the health benefits?
Jenna, Agawam

According to researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, mint is an odor we can also “feel” and just the smell of it can give us more energy.

Studies show just smelling mint helps people exercise longer and helps us complete clerical tasks more quickly and more accurately. You can get these mint benefits from gum, tea, and by adding mint to other beverages, or you can simply rub your fingers with the mint leaves to get a whiff and get the benefits.

If you are going to consume the mint in your yard, be sure you have not mistakenly sprayed it with lawn chemicals or pesticides.

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