Many of you have heard by now that eating foods high in fiber is good for your health. But why? While eating a diet high in fiber is typically associated with relieving constipation, a high fiber diet can also help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
Fiber is found in plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products contain no fiber).
There are two types of fiber: Insoluble and Soluble, each serving a special purpose:
- Insoluble fiber, which is found in the peels and skins of fruits and vegetables, and the outer coverings of nuts, seeds and whole grains, cannot be dissolved in water. Insoluble fiber acts as a natural laxative and increases stool bulk, speeding the passage of food through the digestive system, along with getting rid of toxins, including hormones, in our body. This helps prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, and may also reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Soluble fiber, found in beans, oats, barley and fruits and vegetables, can be dissolved in water. Soluble fiber reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood, and can reduce the risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber also slows down the absorption of glucose from the small intestine into the bloodstream, which can help with diabetes.
Here are some foods high in fiber, all of which are easy to incorporate into daily meals:
- 2 slices whole grain bread, 4-7 grams (depends on the brand)
- 1 cup cooked oatmeal, 4 grams
- 1 cup cooked brown rice, 3.5 grams
- 1 cup cooked barley, 6 grams
- 1 cup cooked black beans, 15 grams
- 1 cup cooked lentils, 15.6 grams
- 1 medium artichoke, 10.3 grams
- 1 cup broccoli, 5.1 grams
- 1 cup green peas, 8.8 grams
- 1 cup corn, 4.2 grams
- 1 cup raspberries, 8 grams
- 1 medium apple, with skin, 4.4 grams
- 1 medium banana, 3.1 grams
- 1 ounce walnuts, 3 grams
- Switch to whole grain toast in the morning
- Have a bowl of oatmeal or other whole grain cereal for breakfast, topped with raspberries and walnuts
- Make sandwiches with whole grain bread
- Eat a piece of fruit at each meal and/or snack time
- Have hummus and whole grain crackers, or a handful of nuts for a snack
- Top your lunch or dinner salad with black beans and walnuts, or add some raspberries and orange segments
- Switch to whole grain pasta (there are some good ones available now)
- Order brown rice in the restaurant (many Asian restaurants offer this option now)
When increasing your fiber intake, do it slowly (over a couple of weeks), to prevent intestinal discomfort or gas, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids since fiber carries water out of the body. Eating a balanced meal that includes a variety of whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure proper fiber intake.
Here’s a quick and easy Black Bean Dip, delicious on a tartine, as a filling in a whole grain tortilla rollup, as a base for nachos, or as a dip for fresh vegetables.
Smoky Black Bean Dip
Adapted from Skinny Dips by Diane Morgan. For a smoky, but milder dip, I used Spanish smoked paprika instead of the chipotle chilies and jalapeno.
|Black Bean Tartine with Avocado|
1 tablespoon olive oil
Note: Although a high fiber diet is recommended for most people, certain medical conditions such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease require a low fiber diet.
Recipes with Foods High in Fiber:
Artichokes Braised in Olive Oil and White Wine
Black Bean Chili
Chili Spiced Almonds
Fiery Red Bean Chili
Fireworks Black Bean Salsa
French Lentil Brown Rice Soup
French Lentil Soup with Barley and Rainbow Chard
Kimchi Fried Rice
Red Lentil Vegetable Soup
Refried Bean Quesadillas
Simple Lentil Dal with Whole Cinnamon, Cardamon and Cloves
Steel Cut Oatmeal with Blueberry Compote
Suvir Saran’s Lentil Soup
Thai Coconut Curry Soup
Vegetable Fried Rice
Warm Red Quinoa with Fresh Berries and Toasted Pecans
Sources and More Information on Fiber and Diet:
Fiber on faqs.org: Nutrition and Well-Being A-Z
Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet by MayoClinic
High Fiber Foods by MayoClinic
Health Benefits of Fiber: Daily Fiber Recommendations by Medscape
List of High Fiber Foods and Fiber Content on ezinarticles.com
High-Fiber Vegetables by A Veggie Venture