Dietary fiber is one of the most important components of a healthy diet. Fiber, a carbohydrate that enters the large intestine undigested, helps control weight, and people who consume high fiber diets tend to weigh less than those with low fiber diets. Along with weight control, studies show fiber can also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and Type 2 Diabetes.
There are two different kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like material and slowing digestion. Soluble fiber can typically be found in grains like oatmeal and barley, legumes like beans and lentils, as well as nuts, seeds and fruits like apples, citrus fruits, pears, berries and tomatoes. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and increases gastrointestinal transit time, the time between food consumptions and waste elimination. Insoluble fiber is typically found in grains such as whole grain breads ad cereals, wheat bran, barley, couscous, brown rice, seeds, and veggies like cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, and celery. Both types of fiber are important for weight control and disease prevention.
Fiber is also available in chewable supplement form, clear powder that dissolves in liquid, and fiber-fortified foods can also be found at any grocery store.
The American Dietetic Association recommend women consume approximately twenty-five grams of fiber daily and men consume thirty-eight grams daily. After age fifty, recommendations drop to twenty-one grams for women and thirty daily grams of fiber for men. Although most people do not get enough dietary fiber, too much of a good thing can be bad. More then fifty to sixty daily grams of fiber can interfere with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals.
While eating healthy fruits, vegetables and whole grains is one of the easiest ways to ensure you are eating a high-fiber diet, it can still be difficult for people to fit in enough each and every day. Here are a few foods to add to your grocery list to ensure you are getting the right foods to fit in that important fiber:
Raspberries and Blackberries
One cup of raspberries or blackberries contains approximately eight grams of fiber. Make the switch from one cup of strawberries or blueberries in your morning cereal, oatmeal, yogurt or protein shake and you’ll be adding an additional four grams to your day!
Lentils contain approximately eight grams of fiber in a half cup serving. Switch from one cup of chicken and rice soup to one cup of lentil soup and you’ll be adding four grams of fiber to your meal.
One medium avocado has approximately eleven grams of fiber. Swap out your your no-fiber mustard or mayo for 1/3 of an avocado and add three and a half grams of fiber to your sandwich.
Flax seeds & cinnamon
Flax seeds not only contain heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, but also have two grams of fiber in each tablespoon. Be sure to buy ground flax seeds, to ensure adequate absorption in the digestive tract. Cinnamon is also the highest fiber spice with four grams of fiber in each tablespoon. Add two tablespoons of flax seeds and one tablespoon cinnamon to your oatmeal, yogurt, or cottage cheese for an extra eight grams of fiber!
Kashi Go Lean Original Cereal
This high-protein, whole-grain cereal is a staple on my grocery list & my go-to for a pre-workout snack. Each cup contains ten grams of fiber, compared to one cup of Special K original cereal, which has only one gram. Make this swap to add nine grams of fiber to your morning.
Gnu Flavor & Fiber Bars
These bars are by far the best I have found for fiber. Each bar has around twelve grams, compared to a Nature Valley granola bar with more calories and only two grams of fiber. Gnu Flavor and Fiber bars even trumps Fiber One bars, which contain nine grams per bar.
“Boost Your Health with Fiber.” Eatright.org. American Dietetic Association, 20 Sept. 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442465065>.
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Calorie Counter | Free Online Diet Program | Nutrition Data. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. <http://caloriecount.about.com/>.