I have noticed in my time writing this blog that almost every time I focus on a healthy food, it boasts having a big dose of fiber. Fiber is a necessary component of a complete diet. The term refers to the edible part of plants that is not easily digested by the body. Fiber is in all plant foods, including beans, grains, fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and legumes. There are two types of fiber:
Soluble which dissolves in water to form a gel like material, slowing down digestion to help with vitamin and mineral absorption and insoluble which bulks up your stool, helping to keep you regular. Both types of fiber are necessary for digestive health. Unfortunately, the average adult consumes only 15 grams of fiber a day even though the daily fiber recommendation for women is 25 grams and for men is 38 grams. Good sources of soluble fiber include beans, sweet potatoes, oats, Brussel sprouts, apples, citrus fruits, peas, carrots, barley and psyllium. Some of the best sources of insoluble fiber include flax seeds, rye bread, whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables. Fiber offers many health benefits.
Eating fiber helps maintain digestive health by keeping you regular, preventing hemorrhoids and decreasing the risk of colon cancer.
Soluble fibers gelling action can help keep blood sugar balanced by slowing down the absorption of sugar. Blood sugar balance is an important component in the fight against diabetes.
Fiber maybe helpful in the weight control. Fiber tends to offer bulk to a food, helping you feel fuller longer, potentially decreasing your total calorie consumption.
Research has shown that soluble fiber reduces overall cholesterol levels by reducing LDL (bad cholesterol). Fiber acts as a mop of the excess cholesterol in your system, helping move it out of your body.
Fiber may also contribute to healthy gut bacteria by providing food for the good bugs that make up your microbiome.
All of these health benefits point to the importance of focusing on a diet rich in a diverse group of plant foods to help ensure you are getting your daily dose of fiber.
Photo from flickr.