What is fiber?
Fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, is a substance found only in plants, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. The part of the plant fiber that you eat is called dietary fiber and is an important part of a healthy diet. Dietary fiber is made up of two main types: insoluble and soluble.
What is the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber?
Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, while insoluble fiber does not. Insoluble fiber passes through the digestive tract largely intact. Both types of fiber are important in the diet and provide benefits to the digestive system by helping to maintain regularity. Soluble fiber has some additional benefits to heart health.
- Insoluble Fiber: Food sources include: vegetables, wheat bran, whole grains brown rice, fruits and legumes.
- Soluble Fiber: Food sources include: barley, fruits, legumes, oats, oat bran, rye, seeds, and vegetables.
Fiber is thought to play a beneficial role in the prevention and management of heart disease, diabetes, appendicitis, diverticulosis, constipation, irritable bowl syndrome and colon cancer. Fiber-rich foods are also found to aid in weight loss by promoting feelings of fullness and by displacing calorie-dense food items.
Best Sources of Fiber?
The best sources of fiber are whole grain products, raw or cooked fruits and vegetables and dried beans and peas. Refined or processed foods, such as fruit juice, white bread, pasta and non-whole-grain cereals, are lower in fiber content. This is because the refining process removes the outer coat (bran) from the grain, which lowers the fiber content. Additionally, removing the skin from fruits and vegetables decrease their fiber content.
Incorporating Fiber in Your Diet
- Choose high fiber breakfast cereals (those that contain 5 or more grams of fiber per serving). Opt for cereals with bran or fiber in the name.
- Switch to “whole grain” breads. These breads list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label. Ideally, look for one with at least 3grams of dietary fiber per serving.
- Choose fresh fruit or vegetables rather than juice.
- Eat the skin and membranes of cleaned fruits and vegetables.
- An increase in fiber should be accompanied by an increase in water.
- Eat less processed foods and more fresh ones.
- It is better to get fiber from foods rather than fiber supplements as foods are more nutritious.
How much fiber is recommended?
The national dietary guidelines recommend 20-35 grams of fiber daily. Dietary fiber have great health benefits, however, too much fiber too quickly can cause intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber gradually over a period of a few weeks.
Sources of Fiber
|Fruits||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)|
|Figs, dried||2 figs||4.6|
|Apple, with skin||1 large||3.7|
|Watermelon||1 large slice||2.8|
|Grains, cereal & pasta||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)|
|Kashi Go Lean Cereal||¾ cup||10|
|Kellogg’s All Bran||½ cup||10|
|Thomas’ Light Multi Grain English Muffin||1 muffin||8|
|Spaghetti, whole-wheat||1 cup||5.6|
|Rice, brown, cooked||¾ cup||3.5|
|Oatmeal, cooked||¾ cup||3.0|
|Bread, rye||1 slice||1.9|
|Bread, whole-wheat||1 slice||1.9|
|Veggies/Legumes||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)|
|Kidney Beans, cooked||½ cup||9.7|
|Split peas, cooked||½ cup||8.1|
|Spinach, cooked||½ cup||7.0|
|Corn on the cob||1 medium||5.0|
|Potato, baked with skin||1 medium||4.4|
|Broccoli, raw||½ cup||4.0|
|Zucchini, cooked||½ cup||3.0|
|Beets, cooked||½ cup||2.5|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||½ cup||2.0|
|Asparagus, cooked||½ cup||1.7|
|Carrots, raw||½ cup||1.4|