Medical research over the years has revealed that a high-fiber diet provides many health benefits. But unfortunately, as per the Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition, the average American consumes less than fifty percent of the required dietary fibers.
“Of late, the many benefits of dietary fiber has come to fore,” says Debra J. Johnston, RD, director of nutrition services at Remuda Ranch, a treatment program for eating disorders in Wickenburg, Arizona.
“Dietary fiber is part of the structural component of the plants. Human body is incapable of digesting it. It doesn’t provide the body with energy but greatly helps in digestion and prevention of diseases,” says Lanah J. Brennan, RD, a dietitian in Lafayette, La.
The dietary fiber has a couple of divisions – soluble and insoluble fibers. Mixture of these two can be found in most of the foods that contain fiber.
“The soluble fibers when come in contact with liquid, makes the process of digestion in the body sluggish. On the other hand, the insoluble fiber moves inside the intestinal tract, which aids the bowl movements,” Brennan elaborates.
Fruits and vegetables as a whole are good source of soluble fiber, while their skins contain insoluble fibers. Whole grains and seeds are also good source of soluble fiber.
Advantages of a High-Fiber Diet
“Fiber also maintains the blood sugar level, fights obesity, lowers cholesterol and even decreases the risk of some cancers,” Brennan reveals.
Following are the advantages of having a high-fiber diet:
Cholesterol: The soluble fiber forms chemical bondage with fatty acid to lower cholesterol level in the body.
Heart: Apart from reducing cholesterol, fiber also lowers the blood pressure, thereby reducing the chances of any cardiac problem.
Diabetes: A high fiber diet wanes the absorption of sugar. Due to this, there is lesser chance of occurrence of type 2 diabetes.
Obesity: A high fiber diet creates fullness in stomach, lowers absorption of sugar by the body and decelerates the process of digestion. A combination of all these helps to fight obesity.
Colon cancer: A high fiber diet helps the body to purge the toxin formed in the colon. Hence, it also prevents the occurrence of colon cancer.
Constipation: High fiber diets are excellent laxatives.
Foods that contain high fiber
“Everyone should take around 20 to 30 grams of fiber in a day,” advises Johnston. Look at the food labels carefully when you shop for your meals.
Studies point that most Americans do not have the proper knowledge about high fiber-rich foods. Vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of fiber. You can also get it from seeds, nuts, bran, oats and barley. The following food items also contain high amount of fiber.
Avocados: Avocado is the fruit that has the most fiber.
Legumes: Legumes like lentils and peas contain high amount of fiber.
Noodles: Since noodles are prepared from grains, they are good source of fiber. Whole-wheat grain is the best in this regard.
Popcorn: Having popcorn for breakfast is a smart way to get your share of high fiber.
Berries: Berries, whether fresh or canned are good source of fiber.
Now that you know the many advantages of high fiber foods, remember to incorporate them into your daily diet to help you lead a healthy and happy life.