Fiber

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 2.18.44 PMWhat is fiber?

In general, fiber is the stuff in plants that the human body cannot digest.  It’s the roughage as some may call it and I like to think of it as the plant species’ primitive bone structure.  Eating more fiber has been associated with lower risks of high cholesterol (and consequently heart disease), various cancers, and type 2 diabetes.  With an estimated 1 out of 3 Americans estimated to suffer from type 2 diabetes by 2050 and heart disease and cancer being the two leading causes of death, can we say fiber anyone?

 On some food products, I see soluble and insoluble fiber listed?  What does that mean?

There are two different types of fiber–soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance, has been found to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels.  Meanwhile, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and instead helps waste move throughout our digestive systems and increases the bulk in our stools.  Consequently, this form of fiber is beneficial for preventing colon cancer. See below for foods that are high in each type of fiber.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 2.17.31 PMInsoluble fiber:  Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, and many vegetables.

Soluble fiber: Oats, peas, nuts, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and barley.

How much fiber should we be eating?

It’s recommended to consume 25-30 g of total fiber every day, with 25% from soluble fiber and 75% from insoluble fiber.  To start adding up the amount of fiber you eat each day, use the provided table as well as the resource from Harvard University’s Health Services mentioned below. If you are eating foods that include a nutrition label, add those values in too to get you to your grand total for the day.

Food Source Soluble Fiber (g) Insoluble Fiber (g)
CEREAL GRAINS (1/4 cup cooked)
Barley 1 3
Oatmeal 2 2
Oatbran 2 3
Seeds
Psyllium seeds, ground (1 Tbsp) 5 1
FRUIT (1 medium fruit)
Apple 1 3
Banana 1 2
Blackberries (1/2 cup) 1 3
Citrus Fruit (orange, grapefruit) 2 0.5
Nectarines 1 1
Peaches 1 1
Pears 2 2
Plums 1 0.5
Prunes (1/4 cup) 1.5 1.5
LEGUMES (½ cup cooked beans or peas)
Black Beans 2 3.5
Kidney Beans 3 3
Lima Beans 3.5 3
Navy Beans 2 4
Northern Beans 1.5 4
Pinto Beans 2 5
Lentils (yellow, green, orange) 1 7
Chick Peas 1 5
Black eyed Peas 1 4.5
VEGETABLES (½ cup cooked)
Broccoli 1 0.5
Brussels Sprouts 3 1.5
Carrots 1 1.5

Also, see a comprehensive table released by Harvard University’s Health Services (click here). This would be great to print off and keep handy. On you marks, get set, go (eat more fiber)!!

See the recipes page for fiber-rich meal ideas.

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