We’ve all heard that there are lots of advantages to eating dietary fiber. There are two categories of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water to become a gelatinous, viscous substance and is fermented by bacteria in the digestive tract. It can increase stool bulk which can help with constipation or irregular stools. Some good sources of soluble fiber are legumes, oats, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. Insoluble fiber has bulking action and is not fermented. It can help lower cholesterol and glucose levels. Some good sources of soluble fiber are flax seed, wheat, apples, green beans, and carrots. According to the Micronutrient Center of the Linus Pauling Institute, the five foods with the most fiber are bran, prunes, legumes, quinoa, and Asian pear.
What are some benefits to consuming dietary fiber? Dietary fiber may reduce appetite by adding “bulk” to your diet, which allows you to feel full faster and get fewer calories per volume. Dietary fiber may also reduce heart disease risk by lowering total and LDL cholesterol. Some other benefits are helping in regulating blood sugar, slowing absorption of glucose, adding bulk to stool, balancing intestinal pH, etc.
The American Dietetic Association recommends at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day for a healthy adult. However, the average American’s intake is usually around 12 to 18 grams per day.
Soo…how can we add more fiber into our diet? Read on to find out!
1. Leave the skins on fruits and vegetables. When you’re eating fruits and vegetables such as pears, apples, and potatoes, don’t peel them. Most of the fiber is in the skin!
2. Eat a fresh orange instead of drinking juice
3. Replace your dessert with a bowl of fruits. Mix raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries in a bowl, or any other fruits you want.
4. Cook brown rice instead of white rice. Not only is brown rice high in dietary fiber, it’s also a good source of iron and many B vitamins
5. Do you love muffins as breakfast? Choose bran muffins instead of chocolate chip muffins!
6. Add more vegetables to your soups! Or have vegetables as snacks (such as stalks of celery with peanut butter, yum!). Salsa can also be a source of vegetables!
7. Add fruits to your meal! Not only will adding fruits to yogurt or cereal increase dietary fiber, it’ll also make your mouth smile!
Keep in mind that eating too much fiber can lead to bloating, gas, and other digestive discomfort! Yikes!
How about you? How do you add dietary fiber into your everyday diet?
By Mitzi Dulan with research assistance from Rachel Yam