Most of us know that fiber is important in our diet, and that it should be included in our meal without fail for a healthy life. However, many of us do not know how much fiber is required for us to be healthy. An average adult consumes only 15 grams of fiber per day, but an average woman requires 25 grams of dietary fiber, while men should consume 38 grams, as per the recommendations of an Institute of Medicine. The recommendations also suggest that a person should get about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories.
It is essential that you start consuming food rich in dietary fiber as it can provide you with the required health benefits and can even help prevent cancer and stroke. A diet that’s rich in dietary fiber can aid in digestion, and help flush the toxins from your system as well. You are required to get the daily intake of dietary fiber which should provide you with a wide range of health benefits.
Moreover, if you happen to be diabetic, then a diet rich in dietary fiber should help bring down your sugar levels. It has also been discovered that dietary fiber can help clean your blood, improve your circulatory health and help regulate your blood pressure as well.
The U.S. government's 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggests the intake of more plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and nuts, to improve the content of fiber in the daily diet. They provide all the essential nutrients and the health benefits along with much required fiber.
Moreover, along with dietary fiber, they also contain essential plant compounds which can help your body fight off infections better while a few even act as anti-inflammatory.
The most common and richest sources of fiber are:
- Beans – beans are a rich source of soluble dietary fiber and as such, they are quite effective in enabling you to regulate your blood pressure and even aid in any digestion related issues. Moreover, eating beans regularly should also help you lose weight since the dietary fiber rich beans make you feel full and even help to curb your appetite.
- Peas – Peas are a rich source of dietary fiber as well; they are loaded with phytonutrients as well as magnesium, niacin and various other minerals and vitamins. They help to regulate blood pressure and even aid in the prevention of strokes as well. You can boil the green peas, and use it in various dishes or even make some pea soup, it should still provide you with a wide range of health benefits.
- Lima beans – Lima beans are rich in dietary fiber, and contain magnesium, copper, folate, phosphorous and other materials and nutrients. Lima beans are good for your health and since they are loaded with several antioxidants they are quite effective in fighting off various infections and aid in effective digestion as well. You can cook lima beans by boiling the same in water along with salt until it is tender. Then you can season it, sauté it and incorporate it into other dishes.
- Soybeans – soybeans are considered to be one of the healthiest foods, and contain several health benefits. They are a rich source of dietary fiber, and are an excellent source of calcium, iron, magnesium and various other minerals. Eating soy beans can help your body to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar levels along with aiding effective digestion. Since soybeans contain dietary fiber, they are effective as an anti-inflammatory agent and even help prevent cancer and stroke.
- Chickpeas – Chickpeas are quite nutritional and are a rich source of dietary fiber as well. Apart from dietary fiber, chickpeas also contain various proteins, along with manganese, folate and various other minerals and vitamins. Chickpeas are quite effective in helping to curb your appetite and are often recommended by dieticians as a healthy way to lose weight. Apart from this, they also aid in digestion and enhance your body’s nutrient absorption rate as well.
- Black-eyed peas – Similar to chickpeas, black-eyed peas are rich in dietary fiber, various vitamins, and proteins. Eating black-eyed peas can enable you to trim that excess weight since they are quite effective in curbing that appetite. Moreover, since they are rich in dietary fiber, they can help to regulate your blood sugar levels as well as your blood pressure. They are also effective in preventing skin related health issues as well as promoting good eye health.
- Artichokes – artichokes happen to be one of the super foods; they contain high amount of antioxidants and are rich in dietary fiber as well. Apart from this, artichokes also contain various vitamins, minerals and folate. As such a regular diet of artichokes should enable you to regulate your blood pressure levels, your blood sugar levels and even help reduce your cholesterol levels. As such, artichokes help you to fight off various infections including cancer and strokes. They also promote good liver health and help to increase the level of folic acid in your body as well.
- Whole wheat flour – Wheat is the food of the gods or so the ancients thought and with good reason. Whole wheat grains are rich in soluble dietary fiber and as such can assist in effective digestion. Apart from fiber, they are also rich in antioxidants which enable your body to fight off various infections and health issues, promote good cardiovascular health by helping to reduce high cholesterol levels. Also wheat is effective in helping to curb your appetite and aid in weight loss as well.
- Barley – Barley is rich in soluble dietary fiber as well as antioxidants; it also contains niacin, chromium, phosphorous, niacin and Vitamin B among others. Barley is quite effective in helping to curb your appetite and in regulating your blood sugar levels as well as your blood pressure. In fact, most doctors often recommend a diet of barley to those who are diabetic given its effectiveness in regulating blood sugar levels.
- Bulgur – It is low in fat and contains high levels of dietary fiber, various proteins, nutrients, minerals like Iron, magnesium among others along with complex plant compounds. This makes Bugur quite effective in enabling your body to fight off various infections and even promotes good cardio health by reducing high cholesterol levels. It also aids in digestion and enables you to curb your appetite thereby enabling you to lose weight in the process.
- Cornmeal – cornmeal is one of those nutrition rich food items that help to provide your body with all the essential nutrients, proteins and dietary fiber per serving. Cornmeal enables your body to fight off infections better while at the same time it aids in digestion and even promotes good cardiovascular health.
- Raspberries – All berries, especially raspberries are extremely rich in dietary fiber as well as antioxidants. As such, these berries can help your body fight off infections, inflammation, and even skin cancer and other forms of cancer as well. They are also quite effective in inhibiting the production of uric acid in your body, thereby helping to reduce inflammation in your joints.
Lettuce, dark leafy greens, broccoli, okra, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, corn, beans, asparagus, cabbage, whole wheat pasta, popcorn, nuts, raisins, pears, strawberries, oranges, bananas, blueberries, mangoes, and apples are also good sources of dietary fiber.
Limit the intake of refined grains, such as white flour, white pasta, and white rice. Replace the refined varieties with whole grain products to get lots of fiber. Foods are the most preferred sources of fiber as they also provide other essential nutrients to the body.
Fiber is classified into two types based on their solubility:
Soluble fiber reduces the levels of LDL cholesterol, regulates the blood pressure, and lowers the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber is found in beans, peas, lentils, oatmeal, oat bran, nuts, seeds, psyllium, apples, pears, strawberries, and blueberries.
Insoluble fiber or roughage reduces the risk of diverticular disease and prevents constipation. Foods like whole grains, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, nuts, grapes, and tomatoes are rich in insoluble fiber.
Fiber of any kind can prevent the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and obesity. It also reduces the risk of certain types of cancer like gastrointestinal cancer. Fiber-rich foods make you feel full soon and prevent overeating.
There are some simple ways to add more fiber to the diet. This includes:
- Have a breakfast of wholegrain with at least 5 grams of fiber in the product
- Choose foods which contain at least few grams of fiber. A good source of fiber will have between 2.5 and 4.9 grams of fiber in it.
- Use whole grain bread for sandwiches.
- Opt for whole fruit instead of juice. Whole fruits have more fiber than juices.
- Add beans into most of the dishes like soup, stew, and egg dishes. Replace meat with beans in one of the meal in a week
- Snack on high fiber foods like vegetables whenever you can.