Did You Know: Fiber has a lot of benefits?
Thursday, August 10, 2023 by Doreen Wennberg
Most adults do not get enough fiber, do you? *Only 5% of men and 9% of women get the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber.
How much fiber do we need? *Most adults should eat 25 to 35 grams of fiber each day.
Let’s take a look at what fiber is, how we can benefit, and how to incorporate more into every meal.
What is Fiber?
Fiber is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that are not broken down by your body. There are two types of fiber. *Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber and both types are needed.
Soluble Fiber: This kind of fiber dissolves in water which forms a gel. This form of fiber helps to lower cholesterol, and helps reduce the risk of heart disease, and regulates blood sugar.
Insoluble Fiber: This kind of fiber adds bulk to stools and helps prevent constipation and irregular bowel movements.
The benefits of Fiber:
- Weight loss: Fiber slows the speed of digestion; and helps us to feel full faster and longer. If we consistently eat fiber foods at every meal, we are less likely to reach for seconds, or worse— processed meat, fried foods, or refined grains—all of which have little to no fiber.
- Regularity: If this is an area that you have a problem with, fiber will help! Since our bodies do not break down insoluble fiber it adds bulk to the stool, and passes through the digestive system fairly intact to help you stay regular.
- Helps lower cholesterol: Important for people with heart disease; *Soluble fiber may help lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels (sometimes called “bad” cholesterol) by trapping cholesterol and preventing your body from reabsorbing it into your bloodstream. The body then excretes this trapped cholesterol in the stool.
- Helps control blood sugar: Important for people with diabetes; *Soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. Because of this, fiber does not cause a spike in blood glucose the way other carbs can.
High fiber foods and how to increase more into every meal.
The recommended daily amount of fiber for women: 21-25 grams. For men: 30-38 grams.
For three meals and two healthy snacks, aim for 5-7 grams of fiber at each.
To add more fiber, include more of these foods in your meals: Whole Grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, and other legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Hulled *Barley ½ cup: 15.9g *Pearled barley is not considered whole grain but yields good fiber: 6g per ½ cup.
- Brown rice, ½ cup: 2g
- Oats ½ cup: 4g. not just for breakfast. Ground up to make oat flour, muffins, and other baked goods.
- Wholegrain bread, 1 slice: 3g, top with ½ C Avacado, which adds 5g.
- Whole wheat pasta 1 cup: 6g (has more than double the fiber of white pasta).
Fruits: great for snacks, oatmeal, baked goods, and salad topper.
- Apple, 1 medium: 4.4g
- Banana: 3.1g
- Blueberries, 1 cup: 3.6g
- Pears, 1 medium, 6g
- Raspberries, 1 cup: 8g
- Strawberries, 1 cup: 3g
Vegetables: snacks, raw or cooked in casseroles, soups, salads.
- Acorn squash, 1 cup: 2.1g
- Beets, 1 cup: 3.8g
- Broccoli, 1 cup: 2g
- Brussel Sprouts, 1 cup, 4g
- Carrots, 1 medium: 2g
- Cauliflower, 1 cup: 2g
- Green beans, 1 cup 3.4g
- Sweet potato, 1 medium: 3.8g
- White potato, 1 medium: 3g
Beans, lentils, and peas: chili, soups, anything Mexican.
- Black beans: ½ cup: 8g
- Dark red Kidney bean, ½ cup: 8g
- Great Northern beans, ½ cup: 6g
- Navy beans, ½ cup: 10g
- Pinto, ½ cup: 8g
- Lentils, ½ cup: 7.8g
- Blackeye peas, ½ cup: 5g
- Chickpeas, ½ cup: 6.5g
- Green peas, ½ cup: 4g
Nuts: add to baked goods, oatmeal, salads, and top fruit. *Always eat nuts in moderation, according to serving size, due to their fat content.
- Almonds, 2Tbsp: 3.5g
- Pistachios, 2Tbsp: 2.8
- Walnuts, 2Tbsp: 1.9g
Seeds: add to baked goods, oatmeal, salads, and soups.
- Chia seeds, 2Tbsp: 10g
- Ground Flaxseed, 2Tbsp: 4g
- Pumpkin seeds, 2Tbsp: 5g
There are many other food sources of fiber. The above are examples most are familiar with. It is helpful to see the fiber content in common foods to increase our awareness if we are consuming enough. Where do you need to do better with your fiber intake? Take a moment to analyze the meals you are eating. If you lack fiber in your daily diet, use the above list to help you strive to include more!
Fiber has many benefits for our health, and with a few swaps and additions, it is easy to incorporate more into every meal.
*If you are not getting enough fiber every day, you may want to gradually add more to let your body get used to the change. Adding too much fiber can cause intestinal gas and bloating, so slowly increase each week, and drink plenty of water with every meal.
Disclaimer: Please note the information provided in this post is for educational purposes. It is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. Consult your doctor about health concerns before making any dietary changes.
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