When you hear the word “fiber,” does your mind go straight to thinking about prunes and constipation? If so, it’s time to rethink that and embrace fiber and its good-for-you benefits.
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble – each with their own distinct health benefits. Soluble fiber is the pectin found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes. It binds with cholesterol and toxins, preventing the body from absorbing them. It slows digestion so blood sugars are released more slowly into the body. Insoluble fiber is found on the outside skin of potatoes and apples or bran and wheat. It is not digestible and acts like a toothbrush on our intestines, cleaning and moving waste out of the body. These fibers help prevent constipation and keep you regular.
Fiber has many other health benefits including:
- Promotes healthy bacteria in the gut
- Reduces risk of colon cancer
- Aids in weight reduction
- Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
Good Sources of Fiber
It may be easier than you think to include fiber in your diet. Most of the fruit we eat is 2 servings, making it easier to get the recommended 5 daily servings.
- Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. That’s ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables, or 1 cup berries or melon, ½ banana, grapefruit or pear, or a very small apple.
- Eat foods with their skin.
- Eat 100% whole-wheat bread.
- Look for cereals with the magic number of six. A 1-cup serving should have more than six grams of dietary fiber and less than six grams of sugar.
- Breads should have a minimum of three grams of dietary fiber in a one-ounce serving.
Gradually increase your fiber consumption over time, aiming for 25-38 grams per day. Be sure to also increase the amount of water you drink to avoid bloating, gassiness, or constipation.