We all know we need to consume more fiber in our diet; 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, in fact, but why? What exactly is fiber and why is it important? Americans are falling short, consuming only an average of 15 grams of fiber per day.
Fiber is derived from plant products, and cannot be broken down by enzymes in the digestive tract. They are therefore not absorbed into the bloodstream. Fiber absorbs water along the way and helps speed up the elimination of toxic waste through the colon. Instead of being used for energy, fiber is removed from our bodies.
You may have heard of insoluble and soluble fiber. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are undigested and both are important for your health. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and may decrease cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and helps with movement of content in the digestive tract.
Fruits (such as apples, oranges and grapefruit), vegetables, legumes (such as dry beans, lentils and peas), barley, oats and oat bran.
Fruits with edible peel or seeds, vegetables, whole grain products (such as whole-wheat bread, pasta and crackers), bulgur wheat, stone ground corn meal, cereals, bran, rolled oats, buckwheat and brown rice.
According to the Institute of Medicine, A high-fiber diet appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation and colon cancer. Fiber is important for the health of the digestive system and for lowering cholesterol.
It’s always better to consume fiber and nutrients through food, than through supplementation. Here are some foods high in fiber by food group;
- Beans, Seeds, and Nuts
- Almonds and other nuts
- Black beans
- Dried peas (split peas)
- Kidney beans
- Peanut butter
- Pinto beans
- Refried beans
- Sunflower and other seeds
- Shredded wheat
- Dried fruit
- Fresh fruit with skin
- Peaches or nectarines
- Strawberries and other berries
- Lima beans
- Potatoes with skin
- >Spinach and other greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grain products
- Brown rice
- Corn tortillas
- Whole grain breads
- Whole grain crackers
- Whole grain muffins
- Whole grain pasta
High Fiber Snack Ideas
- Mashed beans with tortilla shell
- Fresh fruit with low-fat yogurt
- Pancakes or muffins made with whole wheat flour, cereal, or oatmeal
- Apples, celery, or whole grain crackers with peanut butter
- Trail mix with almonds, peanuts, raisins, dried cranberries, and whole grain cereal
Fiber, whether insoluble, or soluble is needed for a healthy digestive tract. Make sure you are consuming your daily recommended value (38 grams/day for men, 25 grams/day for women), for optimal health!