Dietary Fiber is essential to maintaining both a healthy digestive tract as well as cardiovascular health. Fiber also contributes to our overall health in many other ways. But, what is it really??? Well, we are going to solve the mystery of dietary fiber today.
Fiber is simply the indigestible portion of plant food that is eliminated through your gastrointestinal system (GI tract, colon, bowels). There are two main types of fiber and they both have different roles. The two types of fiber are soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water and forms a gel like texture in the intestines. Soluble fiber is helpful in lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol, supporting your cardiovascular health.
Soluble fiber is found in all plant foods. Some of these foods are:
- legumes (pease, soybeans, beans of all kinds)
- oats, rye, barley
- many fruits, such as prunes, plums, apples, bananas, pears, berries
- vegetables such as broccoli and carrots
- root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and onions
Insoluble fiber can not be dissolved in water and passes through the digestive tract relatively unchanged. Insoluble fiber supports a clean and healthy colon preventing diseases like cancer and diverticulitis. Insoluble fiber absorbs water and speeds motility of the colon sweeping the colon clean as it does so.
Some insoluble fiber sources include:
- whole grains
- corn bran
- nuts and seeds
- some fruits such as avocados and bananas
- vegetables such as green beans, cauliflower, celery, zucchini
- skins from potatoes, tomatoes and kiwi
Benefits of Fiber:
1 Balances blood sugar levels.
2. Lowers LDL (Bad) cholesterol, thereby fighting cardiovascular disease.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure.
4. Acts as an anti-inflammatory.
5. Reduces risk of hemorrhoids and other bowel diseases (including diverticulitis and colon cancer)
6. Fiber aids in weight loss, making you feel full and, thus, eating less.
How Much Daily Dietary Fiber Do You Need?
If you are 50 or under, the recommended daily dosage is 25 Grams for women and 38 grams for men (14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories you eat). For men over 50 the dosage is 30 grams and for women over 50 it is 21 grams.
Fiber Rich Foods
- Black Bean 1 cup 15 grams
- Garbonzo Beans 1 cup 13 grams
- Raspberries 1 cup 8 grams
- Broccoli 1 cup 5 grams
- Carrots 1 cup 5 grams
- Kiwi 1 cup 5 grams
- Almonds 1 ounce (24 nuts) 4 grams
- Apple 1 small 4 grams
- Banana 1 large 4 grams
- Oats, 1/2 cup cooked 4 grams
- Popcorn, air popped 3 cups 4 grams
- Spinach 1 cup 4 grams
Dietary fiber foods are packed with nutritional value and nutrients as well as providing a valuable bodily function. Use the MyPlate.gov plan to help establish a dietary plan for you and your family. This will ensure that you get just the right amount of dietary fiber as well as complete nutrition with each and every meal.