Lots of people are looking to get more fiber in their diets these days – for regularity, weight loss, blood sugar control, and even to maintain a healthy heart. About half of adults in the United States don’t get enough fiber in their diets, preventing them from feeling satisfied between meals and warding off chronic diseases.
In fact, a study conducted at Harvard Medical School showed that men who had a high fiber intake had a 40 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease. Lower risks of Type-2 Diabetes and diverticulitis have been noted in Harvard studies as well.
These are some of proven health benefits of dietary fiber:
- Digestive health
- Cancer prevention
- Heart disease prevention
- Diabetes control and prevention
- Skin health
- Weight loss
So you know your body needs fiber, but how much of it do you really need?
According to the Mayo Clinic, men age 50 or younger should get 38 grams of fiber each day, and men older than 50 should consume 30 grams each day. The clinic says that women under age 50 should consume 25 grams of fiber each day, and women over 50 should get 21 grams daily.
Although your body needs fiber, it never really digests it. One type of dietary fiber, soluble fiber, slows down the digestive process and helps to lower blood glucose and cholesterol. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber always stays in the same form and helps waste travel through the intestines.
Some sources of fiber are obvious choices, like bread, cereal, and oatmeal. However, there are lots of delicious ways to get more fiber in your life without a carb overload.
- Raspberries – 8 grams fiber per cup
- Bananas – 3 grams fiber per medium banana
- Apples – 4 grams fiber per medium apple
- Avocados – 6.7 grams fiber per half
- Pears – 5.5 grams fiber per medium fruit
- Artichokes – 10.3 grams fiber per medium cooked vegetable (or Seagate freeze-dried artichoke)
- Peas – 8.8 grams fiber per cup cooked
- Brussels sprouts – 4.1 grams fiber per cup boiled
- Broccoli – 4.1 grams fiber per cup boiled (or Seagate freeze-dried Broccoli)
Fiber-Rich Beans and Grains
- Lentils – 15.6 grams fiber per cup cooked
- Chia seeds – 5.5 grams fiber per tablespoon
- Flaxseed – 3.8 grams fiber per tablespoon
- Hemp seed – 2.5 grams fiber per tablespoon
- Red or black beans – 15 grams fiber per cup cooked
- Lima beans – 13.2 grams fiber per cup cooked
- Whole wheat pasta – 6.3 grams fiber per cup cooked
Non-conventional fiber source:
• Nopal Cactus powder – 3 grams fiber per 9 capsules – Freeze-dried Nopal Cactus contains 2/3 of its weight as pure fiber.
There are lots of “sneaky” ways to add more fiber into your meals without a lot of fuss. Toss some of those seeds mentioned above into salads, smoothies, and recipes for a fiber boost that you’ll barely even notice.
You can also substitute whole grain flour for white flour to add more fiber into your favorite baked goods. Food processors are very useful when it comes to getting more fiber in your diet because you can puree fiber-rich vegetables to create your own sauces, dressings, and soups for healthy meals.
So what’s your favorite source of fiber?