Why focus on fiber? Fiber is a property in food that aids the body in digestion, supports healthy blood sugar, and may reduce cholesterol.
There are two main types of fiber and both can be beneficial for the body but act somewhat differently. There are two forms of fiber and they include soluble and insoluble. These are carbohydrates from plant-based foods that our bodies have a difficult time digesting.
Soluble fiber is not well absorbed which may help reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL) or may lower risks of heart disease by attaching to cholesterol and removing it from the body. Have you heard of eating oatmeal to help lower cholesterol? This is exactly why! Here are a few common soluble fiber foods to reach for:
- Beans, oat cereals, barley, berries, Brussel sprouts, oranges, seeds, some fruits (apples, oranges) and vegetables (carrots).
Non-soluble fiber helps the movement of food through the colon and can play a role in regularity and weight control. Here are a few common insoluble fiber foods to reach for:
- Cucumbers, grapes, raisins, wheat bran, root vegetables, tomatoes, dark leafy vegetables and whole grains (brown rice and whole wheat).
How much fiber are you supposed to have every day?
The typical intake should be 25-30 grams of fiber daily. If you are an athlete or exercise extensively then your fiber needs increase to 40-50 grams per day. However, we as Americans struggle to get adequate fiber and are only getting roughly half of what we need, anywhere from 5-14 grams.
How can you gradually increase fiber?
Pick foods that are 3 grams of fiber or more per serving. Check the nutrition facts labels or your nutrition apps to see the fiber content in different foods. Try visiting www.calorieking.com to look up some of your favorite fiber foods.
When increasing fiber, start low and slow, and follow with water!
Add in more water to keep your digestive plumbing going as you increase fiber, this will help prevent constipation.
Aiming for 5 grams per food item is a good place to start, but increasing fiber too quickly can cause constipation.
- Eat whole fruits over high processed sugary fruit juices. (medium apple has ~4g of fiber)
- Grab whole grains. Pick wheat wraps and bread over white options, and try brown rice. (1 slice of whole grain bread ~2-4 grams of fiber)
- For breakfast, add in fruits and choose cereals that have a whole grain as their first ingredient. (1 prune is 1 gram of fiber)
- Add in easily portable raw vegetables over high-calorie chips, crackers, or candy. (4 oz. baby carrots 2-3 grams of fiber)
- Substitute beans or legumes for meat, two to three times per week in chili and soups. (½ cup of most beans are 6-9 grams of fiber)
Websites to Check Out:
Hospitality Dietitian: Mindy Diller, MS, RDN, LD : firstname.lastname@example.org