Getting adequate amounts of fiber in your diet is important for a variety of reasons. The primary ones are that it improves digestion and contributes to lowering your risk of contracting chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The FDA recommends that adults get at least 25 to 30 grams in their diet every day. However, our typical western diet, which is high in refined grains and processed food, provides the average person only about 15 grams of fiber per day.
There are two different types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble, each of which fulfill an important task. Soluble fiber dissolves in water (and our stomach’s digestive juices), transforming into a gel-like substance that helps to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduce high blood sugar. The primary purpose of insoluble fiber is to work as an indigestible bulking agent to keeps things moving along the digestive tract, which aids elimination and reduces the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis. Fiber may also help you to lose weight, and is important in maintaining general bowel health.
Among the best sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber are the following:
Beans and lentils – Make a three-bean salad, a bean burrito, some chili or soup. Hummus (chick pea puree) is another tasty option.
Bran cereal – You don’t have to endure Grape Nuts to meet your daily requirement. Any cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving is considered high in fiber.
Whole grains – Chuck the white bread for whole-grain bread and pasta. It tastes better, and it does not make your blood sugar spike so quickly due to its higher fiber content.
Brown rice – Has a great, nutty taste and is particularly nice with a little soy sauce added.
Vegetables – Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and celery are among the vegetables with the highest fiber. Be sure not to overcook them though. They should remain crunchy.
Popcorn – A low-calorie snack (if you skip the added butter) and an easy source of fiber.
Nutsand seeds – Those highest in fiber are almonds, pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Baked potatoes – Be sure to eat the skin, as it’s the part with the good fiber.
Berries – There’s a lot of fiber contained in the seeds and skin of berries.
Oatmeal – Steel-cut oats are the best in providing good amounts of cholesterol-lowering fiber. If you’re in a rush, instant oatmeal provides fiber as well, if at a lower amount.
So be sure to add more from the above list to your weekly menu and enjoy the many benefits that increased fiber has to offer!
Fiber is important in your diet for a number of reasons, the main ones being that it improves digestion and lowers your risk of contracting diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It is recommended that adults get from 25 to 30 grams of fiber in their diet every day.
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water (and digestive juices), forming a gel-like substance that helps to lower cholesterol levels and reduce high blood sugar, while insoluble fiber is an indigestible bulking agent that keeps things moving in the digestive tract, aiding in elimination, and reducing occurrences of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis.
Soluble fiber can be found such foods as oats, apples, pears, lentils and carrots, while insoluble fiber is typically found in whole grain flour, nuts, broccoli, seeds and wheat bran. Beans may be one of the best sources, as they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Fiber has been found to:
Lower blood cholesterol – Studies have found that soluble fiber lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or the “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease. The fiber binds to bile acids, allowing for the elimination of cholesterol from the system.
Control blood sugar levels – Fiber slows the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream after a meal, helping to avoid insulin spikes and keeping your blood sugar at moderate levels, also reducing your risk of diabetes.
Help you lose weight – The more fiber a food has, the more likely you are to feel full after eating and not become hungry as quickly. High-fiber foods are also usually lower in calories, so eating the same volume of high-fiber food will provide you with fewer calories to burn than its low-fiber counterpart.
Maintain bowel health – Because fiber absorbs water it increases bulk and softens the stool, making elimination easier, and reducing hemorrhoids. Studies have also shown that it can also help relieve irritable bowel syndrome.
Try to avoid eating processed foods, as these are usually quite low in fiber. Your best choice is to eat whole foods such as fresh vegetables and whole grains, which will provide you with a high-fiber diet.
It’s easy to incorporate high-fiber foods into your diet. Oatmeal at breakfast (preferably the steel cut variety, which has considerably more fiber than the instant kind) with a little fresh fruit added makes a great high-fiber start to your day. If you get hungry at work, instead of heading for the candy machine, try bringing some dried fruit or a handful of nuts. You can also add beans or chopped vegetables to soups and stews for extra taste and fiber. Your body will thank you!