“Whole grain”, “high- fiber” and “bran” are popular words that are usually associated with cereals and grain products, and these are gradually gaining popularity among fitness and diet enthusiasts. Dietary fiber, sometimes called as roughage or bulk, is the indigestible portion of plant foods. Fiber is not digested by our stomach so it passes intact through our small intestine, colon and out of our body.
There are two categories of fiber: soluble fiber which dissolves in water and insoluble fiber which does not.
Soluble fibers form into a gel-like substance when dissolved in water. Foods high in soluble fiber are known to lower cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
On the other hand, insoluble fibers act as the body’s natural broom which sweeps away toxins and increases stool bulk to help individuals with constipation and irregular stools. It is commonly found in whole wheat flour, bran, nuts and many vegetables.
Reasons why foods high in fiber, soluble or insoluble, are good for you
- High-fiber diet greatly contributes to weight loss by adding “bulk” to your diet, which makes you feel full faster thus helping you lose weight.
- Dietary fiber also reduces the risk of heart attack by lowering high cholesterol levels. You need to have your daily dose of foods high in fiber to fully recieve its benefits.
- A high fiber diet slows down the absorption of sugar. In fact, it’s known to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Sufficient fiber intake aids bowel movement and prevents constipation.
List of High Fiber Foods: Identify which Foods are high in fiber
The list of high fiber foods includes:
Grains and Whole-wheat products
Fruits and Vegetables
Beans, Peas and Legumes
Nuts and seeds
To help us more in identifying high fiber foods, the Micronutrient Center of the Linus Pauling Institute named the TOP 5:
- Asian pear.
Tips in Increasing Fiber Intake
The recommended daily fiber intake according to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine is as follows:
|Age 50 and younger||Age 51 and older|
|Men||38 grams||30 grams|
|Women||25 grams||21 grams|
So, if you think that your daily diet lacks in fiber then read and find out how you can increase your fiber intake.
Choose a high fiber breakfast cereal to jump start your day.
When eating fruits and veggies such as apples, grapes, pears, potatoes, etc, don’t get rid of the skin. The skin is where the fiber is found most.
Instead of desserts such as cakes or chocolates, take a bowl of mixed fruit instead.
Brown rice is better than white rice. Not only that it is rich in dietary fiber it is also high in iron and B vitamins
You’ll never go wrong if you snack on fresh and dried fruits, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers. An occasional handful of nuts is also a healthy, high fiber snack.
Beans, peas and lentils are high in fiber too. Add beans to your soup and green salad too. Better yet, make nachos with refried black beans, lots of fresh veggies, whole-wheat tortilla chips and salsa.
Squeeze fresh orange juice or carrot juice. Not only does it refresh you, it’s healthy too.
Look for bread and pasties that have whole wheat flour or whole wheat as the first ingredient on the package.
Before you go all out on your high fiber diet, just keep in mind that by adding too much fiber too quickly can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. Also, drink plenty of water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky.