When it comes to losing weight, one simple piece of advice may be: eat more fiber. Fiber is a carbohydrate found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Unlike other carbs, it isn’t easily digested by your body, so it passes quickly through your system without causing your blood sugar to rise.

A recent study found that people who added more of it to their diets — without changing anything else — lost almost as much weight as people who followed the heart-healthy, low-fat eating plan recommended by the American Heart Association.

The study added to a growing body of evidence that people who eat more fiber tend to have a healthier body weight.

While high-fiber foods tend to be healthy (think: fruit, veggies, whole grains), what proved equally important was that this kind of diet was easier to stick to than the other, more structured approach.

All fruits and vegetables have fiber, but it’s mostly concentrated in the skin, seeds, and membranes. That means an apple with the skin on has more fiber than a peeled banana; or a whole orange vs. juice. Some of fiber’s richest fruit sources are berries like raspberries and strawberries, in peak season now at the farmers market.

Currently, most people consume only half their daily requirement, which is 30 grams for women and 38 for men. This means we’re missing out not only on the weight benefit, but also a lower risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

While fiber has no magical fat-burning properties, it helps you feel full without adding a lot of extra calories to your diet. And fiber keeps things moving along, if you catch my drift.

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble absorbs water and gives you that full feeling (satiety). Good sources of this are:

Beans, carrots, oatmeal, lentils, apples and citrus. Insoluble fiber is often referred to as ‘roughage’ because it comes from the woody part of the plant, such as broccoli, outer corn kernels and whole wheat. Both types of fiber are important, and as you might have guessed by now, your best sources are in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad

Serves 4

This is one of my favorite summer salads for flavor and fiber. With the beans and corn it contains a whopping 12 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein.

1 cucumber, diced

2 cups cooked black beans, preferably Rancho Gordo

1 1/4 cups fresh corn

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup cherry tomatoes (Sun Golds are my fave)

½ cup packed fresh cilantro, chopped

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1 lime

1/4 tsp. cumin

Olive oil

1 avocado, diced

Salt and pepper

Cayenne pepper, optional

Place the cucumber, black beans, corn, red pepper, tomatoes, and chopped cilantro in a bowl. Squeeze the fresh juice from the lime onto the salad, plus cumin and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir well.

Mix in the avocado, and season with salt and pepper. For an extra kick, add a dash of cayenne.

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