Dietary fiber, sometimes referred to as “roughage” or “bulk”, is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by our bodies. Although fiber provides minimal energy (calories), it is still a very important part of a healthy diet. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and other legumes, and whole grains all contain dietary fiber. Fiber benefits our health in many ways:
- Decreases blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease
- Slows down the movement of food through the digestive system, keeping you feeling fuller for longer
- Helps control blood sugar levels
- Increases the bulk in your intestines, preventing constipation and promoting bowel health
Types of Fiber
This type of fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance. Soluble fiber can assist in lowering blood cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar levels. It is found in oats, beans, peas, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, and barley.
Insoluble fiber helps move partially broken-down food through your digestive system and increases the bulk of your stool. It is found in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, and vegetables. Adding more insoluble fiber to your diet can help with constipation and regularity in bowel movements.
It is recommended that women eat 25 grams of fiber per day and men eat 38 grams.
Check out the handout below for three tips for sneaking more fiber into your diet.
Using the tips provided in the handout, add at least one high-fiber food item to your diet this week!