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Fiber has many wonderful characteristics! Fiber can lower blood sugar, cut cholesterol and may even help prevent colon cancer. But few people are getting enough! Women should get about 25 grams each day, and men at least 35-40 grams. However, the average person only gets about 15 grams per day.

Many people rely on whole grains and salads to provide their daily fiber intake, which is definitely a good start. But, lettuce alone isn’t enough. In fact, iceberg lettuce only has about 0.5g per cup! Try adding some artichokes, which provide about 10.3g, or avocado, which provide 6.7g per half, to your salad. Additionally, adding beans to your meals also helps increase your fiber intake. One cup of white beans is about 12g of fiber, while one cup of black beans is about 15g.

If you’d rather get your fiber from a dessert, try black bean brownies. It may sound odd, but you can’t taste the beans, and the brownies contain more than 22g of fiber total.

You can also try incorporating flaxseed into your diet, by adding this to your oatmeal, smoothies or yogurt. A two-tablespoon serving of flaxseed contains 3.8g of fiber, and also gives you a dose of omega-3 fatty acids! Chia seeds offer 5.5g of fiber per tablespoon and are great for thickening smoothies or puddings, and for replacing eggs in most baked good recipies!

Some other high fiber foods include corn (2g per ear), brown rice (3.5g per cup), lentils (15.6g per cup), pears (skin intact, 5.5g per pear), and broccoli (5g per cup).

Eating your recommended daily amount of fiber can be fun! Push the limits and try some new fiber filled recipes! Your colon will thank you!

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If you think you have high blood pressure and want to check your blood pressure often, those free machines at local pharmacies are tempting. But just how accurate are they?

There are two types of blood pressure monitors. The first is the one you’re probably most familiar with, manual blood pressure monitors. These consist of an arm cuff, squeeze bulb, gauge and a stethoscope. This is most likely what your doctor or nurse practitioner uses when you go into the office for a visit.

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Winter can be a rough time for many. The days are short, temperatures are low and sometimes it’s a struggle to get out of bed. Here are five ways to help lift your spirits and help you feel happier.

1. Utilize light. People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) (a form of depression that begins as weather gets cold and days get shorter, and fades as the weather warms up) may feel depressed, irritable and have trouble waking in the morning, especially when it’s still dark out. Studies show that a dawn simulator, which causes the lights in your room to gradually brighten over a set period of time, can serve as an antidepressant and make it easier to get out of bed. Additionally, sitting next to a light box (10,000 lux) for 30 minutes per day can be as effective as antidepressant medication.

2. Listen to music. Does an upbeat song ever make you feel happy? A 2013 study from the University of Missouri confirms listening to upbeat music can significantly improve your mood in both the short term and long term.

3. Stay active. A 2005 study from Harvard suggests exercising every day for about 30 minutes improves symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

4. Eat smarter. Certain foods, like fresh fruits and omega-3 fatty foods, can help boost your mood, whereas carb-heavy and caffeine-heavy foods can impact your mood negatively. There are plenty of seasonal produce available in the winter like cranberries, oranges, winter squash and kale.

5. Laugh. Laughter helps stimulate processes in your brain that counter depression symptoms and blood pressure. Your local library should have plenty of comedy movies and TV shows to help you laugh.