Food With Dietary Fiber

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Nothing is more important than your health. After all, without it, you can’t do the things you love with the people you care about. And while the human body has a powerful capacity to heal, we also have to take care of ourselves so that our bodies can perform at their best.

One of the most essential ways we care for ourselves is through diet: what we eat and when we eat it are key factors that affect our health. One of the foods that every person should add to their diet is fiber. It’s an essential component of any healthy diet, but it’s especially beneficial for people who have diabetes or who struggle with weight management.

What Is Dietary Fiber?

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be digested by our bodies. It is found in fruits and vegetables as well as grains like barley, oats, and wheat. It can be soluble (dissolves in water) or insoluble (not soluble in water), and both types are important for our health.

Why Is Dietary Fiber Important?

There are several reasons why dietary fiber should be a part of everyone’s daily eating routine:

Healthy gut bacteria: The bacteria in your gut help to break down food so that your body can use it as

Food With Dietary Fiber

Getting your fill of fiber can seem tough, especially if you’re not in the mood for vegetables. But did you know popcorn has fiber? Keep reading for more high-fiber foods that you’ll actually want to eatEdamame Beans

1. Beans

Lentils and other beans are an easy way to sneak fiber into your diet in soups, stews and salads. Some beans, like edamame (which is a steamed soy bean), are even a great fiber-filled snack. There are 9 grams of fiber in a half-cup serving of shelled edamame. A bonus? All of these provide a source of plant protein, too. Some bakers have even started including beans or bean flours in their baked goods, which research suggests can still make quality cakes.
Broccoli

2. Broccoli

This veggie can get pigeonholed as the fiber vegetable. Its cruciferous nature—meaning it’s from the Brassica genus of plants along with cauliflower, cabbage and kale—makes it rich in many nutrients in addition to fiber. Studies have shown that broccoli’s 5 grams of fiber per cup can positively support the bacteria in the gut, which may help your gut stay healthy and balanced.5, 6
Blueberries

3. Berries

Berries get a lot of attention for their antioxidants, but they’re full of fiber, too. Just a cup of fresh blueberries can give you almost 4 grams of fiber, and there is nearly the same amount of fiber in a cup of frozen unsweetened blueberries. Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are also great sources of fiber.8 Of course, one of the biggest benefits of berries is that they’re naturally low in calories, too.9Avocado

4. Avocados

Avocados pretty much go with everything—toast, salads, entrees, eggs—and while they’re often recognized for their hefty dose of healthy fats, there are 10 grams of fiber in one cup of avocado (so just imagine how much is in your guacamole).10Bowls of Popcorn

5. Popcorn

There’s one gram of fiber in one cup of popcorn, and the snack (when natural and not covered in butter, like at the movies) is a whole grain that can satiate cravings with a hit of fiber.11 It’s even been called the King of Snack Foods.12Whole Wheat Bread

6. Whole Grains

Good news for bread lovers: Real whole grains, found in 100% whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and oats, have fiber.13, 14, 15 One tip to watch out for: as required by The Food and Drug Administration, whole grains should be the first ingredient on a food package in order for it to be considered a real whole grain.13, 14Green and Red Apples

7. Apples

That old saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t necessarily true, according to research, but the fruit can boost your fiber intake.16 There are about 4 grams of fiber in an apple, depending on its size. And, of course, they’re a nice and crunchy snack.Prunes

8. Dried Fruits

Dried fruits like figs, prunes and dates can boost your fiber intake dramatically and are recommended for those struggling with occasional constipation.17 The sugar called sorbitol, which naturally occurs in these fruits, can help your bowels and lead to more comfort.17 However, eating too many can lead to cramping or diarrhea, so try a small serving and see how you feel once you’ve digested them, before noshing on too many more.17Potatoes

9. Potatoes

Sweet potatoes, red potatoes, purple potatoes and even the plain old white potato are all good sources of fiber; one small potato with skin can provide close to 3 grams of fiber.18 The veggie has a bad reputation for running in the wrong crowds—fries and chips, to name a few. However, when not fried in oil and slathered in salt, potatoes can provide many benefits.19Avocado

10. Nuts

Nuts aren’t just a great source of protein and healthy fats—sunflower seeds and almonds each have more than 3 grams of fiber in a serving. They can help you reach the 25-gram intake of fiber recommended by the FDA for women and 38-gram recommendation for men.22, 23* Raw or dry-roasted nuts are preferred over the pre-packaged variety (which are usually cooked in oils that can add extra, unnecessary calories.)24 Even nut butters can pack a punch of fiber.25

*According to the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that, in adults 50 or younger, women should consume 25 grams of fiber daily and men 38 grams. In adults 51 or older, women should consume 21 grams of fiber daily and men 30 grams.

Eating more fiber delivers a slew of health benefits. Here are 10 health benefits of fiber to encourage you get your fill. Plus, here are 10 foods with more fiber than an apple to help you get your fill.

1. You’ll Lose Weight

Even if increasing your fiber intake is the only dietary change you make, you’ll shed pounds. Dieters who were told to get at least 30 grams of fiber a day, but given no other dietary parameters, lost a significant amount of weight, found a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In fact, they lost nearly as much as a group put on a much more complex diet that required limiting calories, fat, sugar and salt and upping fruit, veggie and whole-grain consumption.

Fiber-rich foods not only fill you up faster and keep you satisfied longer, they also prevent your body from absorbing some of the calories in the foods you eat. “Fiber binds with fat and sugar molecules as they travel through your digestive tract, which reduces the number of calories you actually get,” explains Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D., author of The F-Factor Diet. Another study found that people who doubled their fiber intake to the recommended amount knocked off between 90 and 130 calories from their daily intake-that’s equal to a 9- to 13-pound weight loss over the course of a year. Learn more about fiber and weight-loss and why you should be eating more of these seven high-fiber foods that can help you lose weight.

2. Maintain a Healthier Weight Over Time

Yep, it can also help you avoid putting pounds back on. People who got more fiber tended to be leaner overall-while those who were obese got an average of almost 1 gram a day less fiber than normal-weight participants, according to a study at the Medical University of South Carolina. And recent research at Georgia State University found that mice put on diets lacking in fiber-specifically soluble fiber-gained weight and had more body fat compared to those who weren’t deficient. What’s more, mice given adequate soluble fiber resisted fat gain-even when put on a high-fat diet.

3. Cut Your Type 2 Diabetes Risk

It’s a well-established fact. A recent analysis of 19 studies, for example, found that people who ate the most fiber-more than 26 grams a day-lowered their odds of the disease by 18 percent, compared to those who consumed the least (less than 19 grams daily). The researchers believe that it’s fiber’s one-two punch of keeping blood sugar levels steady and keeping you at a healthy weight that may help stave off the development of diabetes.

4. Lower Your Odds of Heart Disease

For every 7 grams of fiber eaten daily, your risk of heart disease drops by 9 percent found a review of 22 studies published in the BMJ. That’s partly due to fiber’s ability to sop up excess cholesterol in your system and ferry it out before it can clog your arteries. (Get more heart-healthy diet tips.)

5. Have Healthier Gut Bacteria

The good bugs that make up your microbiome feed off fiber-and flourish. As your gut bacteria gobble up fiber that has fermented in your G.I. tract (delish), they produce short-chain fatty acids that have a host of benefits-including lowering systemic inflammation, which has been linked to obesity and nearly every major chronic health problem.

A recent Italian study found that eating a high-fiber Mediterranean diet was associated with higher levels of short-chain fatty acids. “And you can start to see the changes in gut bacteria within just a few days,” says Kelly Swanson, Ph.D., a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The catch: You’ve got to consistently get enough grams-ideally every day, if not most days of the week-to keep getting the benefits. Skimping on fiber shifts bacteria populations in a way that increases inflammation in the body. Check out these delicious whole-grain recipes to get your fiber fill.

6. Reduce Your Risk of Certain Cancers

Every 10 grams of fiber you eat is associated with a 10 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and a 5 percent fall in breast cancer risk, says a study published in the Annals of Oncology. In addition to the anti-cancer effects of fiber, the foods that contain it-like veggies and fruits-are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that could further reduce your odds, notes Sheth. Read even more about your diet and cancer risk.

7. Live Longer, Period

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health recently found that people who often ate fiber-rich cereals and whole grains had a 19 and 17 percent, respectively, reduced risk of death-from any cause-compared to those who noshed on less fiber-heavy fare.

8. Be More, Well, Regular

Snicker all you like, but “constipation is one of the most common G.I. complaints in the United States,” says Zuckerbrot. And you don’t need us to tell you it’s no fun. Fiber makes your poop softer and bulkier-both of which speed its passage from your body.

9. Get an All-Natural Detox

Who needs a juice cleanse? Fiber naturally scrubs and promotes the elimination of toxins from your G.I. tract. Explains Zuckerbrot: “Soluble fiber soaks up potentially harmful compounds, such as excess estrogen and unhealthy fats, before they can be absorbed by the body.” And, she adds, because insoluble fiber makes things move along more quickly, it limits the amount of time that chemicals like BPA, mercury and pesticides stay in your system. The faster they go through you, the less chance they have to cause harm. (Don’t miss: Why you should skip the cleanse.)

10. Build Strong Bones

Some types of soluble fiber—dubbed “prebiotics” and found in asparagus, leeks, soybeans, wheat and oats—have been shown to increase the bioavailability of minerals like calcium in the foods you eat, which may help maintain bone density.

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