Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. This essential nutrient is found only in plants; you can’t get it from animal products. Although fiber passes through your gut undigested, it’s a very important nutrient for maintaining health.
The Benefits of a High Fiber Diet
A high fiber intake supports your health in a number of different ways, but it’s best known for promoting regularity. Fiber adds bulk to your stool, preventing constipation and making bowel movements easier. Fiber’s benefits don’t begin and end in the bowels. Eating fiber helps you feel fuller faster, which supports healthy weight loss. It reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, obesity, constipation, and breast cancer.
Unfortunately, most of us simply do not get enough fiber in our diets. Experts recommend that people should eat between 21 and 38 grams of fiber every day. The average American only consumes 16 grams.
Soluble Fiber vs. Insoluble Fiber
There are two varieties of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a gel in your digestive tract. Soluble fiber is good for controlling cholesterol and supporting heart health. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water; it passes essentially unchanged through your digestive system. It aids digestion and helps relieve constipation.
What are the Best High Fiber Foods?
Because the average American diet contains so little dietary fiber, it’s important to plan your meals accordingly. Fiber supplements are readily available, but the best way to add fiber is always through food. Here are some of the best food sources of dietary fiber. All measurements are based on 100 gram servings unless otherwise stated.
Your mother knew what she was talking about when she told you to eat your veggies. A diet high in greens can lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and balance blood sugar. Vegetables are also an excellent source of fiber. These are a few of the best veggies you can eat to increase your fiber intake.
When cooked, Brussels sprouts contain 2.6 g of fiber. They are also an excellent source of folate, manganese, and vitamins C and K.
Chopped raw broccoli contains 2.6 g of fiber. Cooking actually concentrates this slightly to 3.3 g. Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies are loaded with health-promoting compounds called phenolics, which are associated with lower risks of coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, asthma, and other serious conditions.
Artichokes are the immature flower head of a type of thistle, and they are way more delicious than that makes them sound. One medium artichoke contains 6.8 g of dietary fiber, which is about 5.7 g per 100 g.
Fruit is cholesterol-free and naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Many fruits are also an excellent source of fiber. Here are a few of the best fibrous fruits.
There’s a reason they call prunes “nature’s laxative.” Prunes, also known as dried plums, get their constipation-relieving powers from a very high fiber content. Every 100 g of prunes boasts 7.1 g of fiber. They are also naturally rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, potassium, and iron.
Ripe bananas are high in a soluble fiber called pectin. One medium banana contains 3 to 4 g of it. Avoid unripe bananas. Not only do they taste bad, but they also lack the fiber content of the ripe fruit, and contain heavy starches that can cause constipation.