What is fiber?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate. It is the portion of plant food that cannot be digested by the body. Since it is not digested, it does not contribute any calories to the diet.
There are two types of fiber found in all plant foods: insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not.
How does our body use fiber?
Since fiber is not digested in the body, it simply follows along the digestive tract binding to water, cholesterol, and carbohydrates.
By binding to cholesterol-making compounds as they move through the body, fiber causes less overall blood cholesterol
, which may improve heart health.
As fiber binds to other carbohydrates, it slows down the absorption of these carbohydrates. This helps prevent unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels and may decrease a person’s risk for diabetes.
Fiber also binds to water while passing through the digestive tract, which improves the frequency and density of bowel movements. This decreases the risk of digestive disorders.
How much fiber do I need in my diet?
Fiber should account for at least 5% of your daily caloric intake. This is roughly 25 grams of fiber per day for a person consuming 2,000 calories daily.
What are good sources of fiber?
Since fiber is found in plant foods, good sources include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Food items such as oats, nuts, apples, strawberries, blueberries, barley, potatoes, whole grains, wheat bran, carrots, cucumbers, celery, and tomatoes are high in fiber. Here is a list of the type of fiber found in various food items:
|Soluble Fiber||Insoluble Fiber|
|• Legumes (peas, beans)||• Whole Grains|
|• Oats||• Bran|
|• Rye||• Nuts|
|• Barley||• Seeds|
|• Apples||• Green Beans|
|• Bananas||• Cauliflower|
|• Berries||• Zucchini|
|• Potatoes/Yam||• Skin of potatoes/yams|
|• Broccoli||• Celery|
|• Carrots||• Skin of Tomatoes|
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