Fiber is only found in plant based foods. Beans, grains, vegetables and fruits. It passes through the body with very little change and so it provides few calories and maintains the health of the digestive tract.
Fiber has been found to lower the risk of cancer, help control blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease. Fiber helps to keep you full without adding more calories and so it helps with weight control
There are two different kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water. It has benefits on your body’s chemistry lowering blood cholesterol and blood sugar.
- Insoluble fiber is mainly made up of plant cell walls and cannot be dissolved in water, it has a laxative effect.
A balanced diet should contain approximately 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. The average American eats less than half of that. Food companies have been trying to “help” and so we have seen fiber pop up in a variety of consumer goods including water, yogurt, snacks, and even artificial sweetener. Most foods with “added fiber” don’t have the vitamins and minerals and other beneficial nutrients associated with naturally high fiber foods. The best way to get natural fiber is by choosing whole grains and eating fruits and vegetables.
Here is six easy ways to get 25 grams of fiber every day.
- Start your day with a smoothie or whole grain cereal with fruit (fresh or frozen have an equal amount of fiber). 1 cup of your favorite berries has between 5 and 8 grams of fiber.
- Take a midmorning snack of an apple or pear for another 4-5 grams and maybe even an ounce of almonds for 3 more grams.
- Add some beans to a salad or a soup for lunch -- ½ cup lentils or black beans have around 7 grams. Or you can consider a whole wheat pita sandwich with hummus, cucumbers and tomatoes. ¼ cup hummus has about 4 grams of fiber.
- Try an afternoon snack of edamame for 3-5 grams or some whole wheat crackers like Triscuits for 3 grams.
- For dinner, add some baby corn to your salad or stir fry, 3 oz. has 6 grams of fiber. Opt for whole grains like barley, faro, spelt and even steel cut oats.
- For dessert, make a Pumpkin Steamer, ¼ cup of canned pumpkin has about 2 grams of fiber.