Fiber! Roughage! Bulk! We’ve all heard of these words, but do you really understand how important they are and what they mean? We all know that consuming foods rich in fiber is not only good for you, but do you know why fiber is so good and why we should be eating it daily and often?
Did you know that you should have between 1-3 bowel movements a day? You weren’t aware of this? Well, you should be since if your intestines don’t pass the food out of your body, you can suffer from constipation, issues with bloating along with stomach pains and aches. Your body knows what to do with food, but you’ve got to help yourself out to make sure you’re operating on premium fuel!
Fiber is rich in both taste and benefits. They may assist in:
- Decreasing cholesterol levels.
- Treating and the prevention of constipation.
- Protecting against certain forms of cancer.
- Possibly decreasing the risk of diabetes.
- Decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Fighting obesity.
The Difference Between Soluble and Insoluble Fiber:
Soluble Fiber (dissolves in water) – can assist in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels and glucose levels.
Insoluble Fiber (doesn’t dissolve in water) – can greatly assist those who frequently experience constipation and can assist in increasing your stool bulk (this is a very good thing).
Our fiber intake should be at least 30 grams a day, but most Americans consume far less than half. To help you get in more fiber will less excuses, here is a fun and easy list for you to use.
List of Foods Rich in Fiber:
Beans – are high in fiber, iron and protein and low in carbs which makes beans very tasty and very filling! Beans from pinto, black, red, lima and kidney just to name a few are great by themselves, or with a ¼ cup of rice. A cup of these powerhouse beans yields at least 11 grams of fiber for most types.
Berries – are not only great for smoothies, cereal, yogurt or as an easy and quick snack. Berries, due to their tiny seeds, are higher in fiber than most fruits which includes strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and can be consumed fresh, frozen, canned and dry which makes them a great treat year round. 1 cup of berries yields between 3-10 grams of fiber.
Dried Fruits – including raisins, figs and prunes, yields 2-8 grams of fiber while other fresh fruits (bananas, apples, oranges and pears) have between 3-6 grams of fiber per serving.
Whole Grains (not to be confused with whole wheat) – include the seed in its entirety with none of the precious vitamins, minerals, fibers and protein being lost, bleached or stripped in the process. Whole grain can be used as pilafs, in salads, crackers and breads as well as in your main dishes and side dishes. Fun Fact: Did you know that popcorn (the kernels) is considered a whole grain food? Just make sure to choose the fat-free version instead of the movie theater butter style! Everything from quinoa (my favorite), millet, wild rice, brown rice and bulgur to whole wheat pasta can give you a happy 3-5 grams of fiber per serving.
Green Leafy Vegetables – your parents were right about vegetables. They are awesome and good for you too! These super foods are rich in color, taste, vitamins and minerals. All green leafy vegetables can be used in salads, steamed or consumed as a quick snack or in lieu of bread as a breadless sandwich for those trying to cut back and reduce their starchy carb intake. Green leafy vegetables, including mustard, collard, turnips as well as spinach and card will give you 4-5 grams of pure fiber and are very low in carbs.
Other Green Leafy Vegetables – including kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are also packed with 3-6 grams of fabulous fiber in only 1 cup and have been emphasized for their cancer-protective benefits. These greens can be served raw, steamed or cooked as well as used in stir-frys, salads and quick snacks.
- Potatoes – now that I have your attention, I’m sure you were wondering where potatoes fit in with high fiber foods. To get the most fiber out of the potato family (russet, red and sweet) make sure you always eat the entire potato, including the skin. A medium potato will give you 3-4 grams of fiber and remember, no frying!
- Other Veggies – including seaweed, jicama, Asian pears, guava (raw), persimmons, edamame (frozen) and hearts of palm (cooked) provide between 4-6 grams of fiber per serving.
Squash – from summer, hubbard, zucchini, spaghetti, acorn and crookneck, squash is a tasty flavorful food that is not only pleasing to the taste buds but is also pleasing visually in their colors and textures. Squash is awesome in salads, casseroles, soups and stews as well as grilled.
Nuts and Seeds – are packed with fiber, but watch out as they can and usually are high in fat also which means more calories. Nuts and seeds can be a quick protein and fiber snack (a small handful) and can be used in salads, yogurt and in both hot and cold breakfast cereals. From sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts and so many others, nuts and seeds are a quick pick-me-up, which is great when you’re short on time and feeling a little hungry.
Now, please keep in mind that although there are many other foods that are rich in fiber and that only a small amount have been listed here, my goal is to give you options that maybe you hadn’t considered before and to assist you in increasing your fiber intake.