Fiber includes the parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest or absorb. Most fiber passes through your GI tract to your colon where it feeds gut bacteria leading to a healthier gut and other health benefits such as better immune system function and less inflammation.
Fiber has many additional health benefits including:
There are 2 types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both of these types are good for your health.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material. It can help lower both blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels. This type of fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, lentils, nuts, apples, blueberries, citrus fruits, carrots and barley.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It helps material move through your digestive system, provides bulk for your stools and helps prevent constipation. This type of fiber is found in whole wheat flour, wheat bran, brown rice, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, nuts, and beans.
You may have noticed that beans and nuts are on the lists for both soluble and insoluble fiber. Most plants contain varying amounts of both types of fiber. For the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high fiber foods.
The Health Plus program recommends that you eat at least 25 grams of fiber each day. It can be challenging to meet this goal. The best sources of fiber are whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, soybeans, chickpeas, fresh peas, sugar snap peas, and snow peas), nuts and seeds.
Some higher fiber, low fat foods include:
|Type of Food||Serving Size||Grams of Fiber/Serving|
|Barley (Pearled), cooked||1 cup||6|
|Bran Flakes||1 cup||7|
|Brown Rice||1 cup||3.5|
|Oatmeal, cooked||1 cup||4|
|Popcorn, air popped||3 cups||3.5|
|Quinoa, cooked||1 cup||5.2|
|Apple with Skin||1 medium||4.4|
|Blackberries||1 cup, fresh||8|
|Blueberries||1 cup, fresh||4|
|Cherries||1 cup, fresh||3|
|Mango||1 cup, fresh||3|
|Pear with skin||1 medium||5.5|
|Raspberries||1 cup, fresh||8|
|Strawberries||1 cup, fresh||3|
|Asparagus||1 cup, cooked||3.6|
|Beets||1 cup, raw||3.8|
|Broccoli||1 cup, raw||2.4|
|Brussels Sprouts||1 cup, raw||3.3|
|Cauliflower||1 cup, raw||2.1|
|Collard Greens||1 cup, boiled||5.3|
|Green Beans||1 cup, chopped||3.4|
|Kale||3 cups, fresh||2.4|
|Potato with skin||1 medium, baked||4.6|
|Spinach||3 cups, fresh||2|
|Sweet Potato with skin||1 medium, baked||3.9|
|Black Beans||½ cup, cooked||8.3|
|Black-eyed Peas||½ cup, cooked||4|
|Edamame||½ cup, shelled pods||4|
|Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)||½ cup, cooked||6.3|
|Kidney Beans||½ cup, cooked||6.1|
|Lentils||½ cup, cooked||6.6|
|Lima Beans||½ cup, cooked||4.6|
|Navy Beans||½ cup, cooked||9.6|
|Peas||½ cup, frozen||3.6|
|Pinto Beans||½ cup, cooked||7.5|
|Split Peas||½ cup, cooked||8.1|
Do you need some ideas for getting more fiber each day? Try these suggestions:
Increasing the amount of fiber you eat too quickly can result in stomach bloating, gas and cramping. So you may want to gradually increase the amount of fiber you eat over the course of a few weeks. This will allow the bacteria in your gut to adjust to the higher amount of fiber in your dietary pattern. Make sure you also drink plenty of water since this can help decrease the adverse symptoms. In addition, fiber works best when it absorbs water. This will help keep your stools soft and bulky.
When you cook high fiber foods, the heat breaks down the fiber and softens the food. This will lead to less fiber being available for your body. However, this can be beneficial in some situations. It is easier to chew fruits and vegetables that are firm and tender rather than crunchy, especially for older people and people with dental issues. Many foods taste better when they have been cooked. Cooking can also decrease the digestive issues, such as bloating and gas, some people experience when eating a lot of fiber.
Loss of fiber can be avoided by cooking fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes until they are tender and firm, but not mushy. When cooking grains such as brown rice or quinoa, don’t use too much water since pouring off excess water will remove fiber and nutrients. Try and eat fruits and vegetables as close to raw as possible to maximize the amount of fiber you eat.
Information compiled from: