Here’s why fiber is so important for good health – and some healthy and delicious high-fiber foods to help you get more of it!
You’ve probably heard all your life “fiber is good for you!” or “you need to eat more fiber.” But why, exactly? If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about fiber, and why it’s so important for your health, we’ve got answers!
In short, fiber helps your both to absorb nutrients from food, and to eliminate toxins. Fiber is essential for healthy digestion and weight maintenance, and it also helps you feel full and satisfied after eating. Dietary fiber has also been linked to a lowered risk of diabetes and cancer, and may even help you live longer, according to recent research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Here’s a bit more about fiber and how it works in your body, from the Food Revolution Network:
Fiber is found in the cell walls of plants, where it provides structure and functions as sort of as a skeleton. It’s not digestible by humans, so it doesn’t provide nutrients or calories. But it’s critical to your health anyway.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Each performs a different job in your body.
Soluble fiber helps lower blood glucose levels and cholesterol, and is found in foods, such as oatmeal, beans, and legumes, as well as in some fruits and vegetables.
Insoluble fiber acts like a broom, cleaning out your digestive tract, and is found in foods, such as whole grains, kidney beans, bran, and fruits and vegetables.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber are found naturally in plant foods. Meat, dairy products, eggs, and oils do not contain any fiber. And processed foods made with sugar or white flour generally contain very little fiber because any natural fiber is lost or removed.
Even though, according to the USDA, only 3% of Americans get the recommended daily amount of fiber, it really isn’t that hard to get enough fiber in your diet, as long as you know which high-fiber foods to eat. Most whole and unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain lots of fiber. Here are a few easy tips for eating more fiber:
- Replace beef with beans
- Choose oatmeal with berries or sliced apple, instead of eggs or sugary cereal
- Snack on fiber-rich foods, such as sliced apples with peanut butter or veggies and hummus
- Skip meat, dairy, and processed foods like cookies, crackers, chips, and sodas
- If you eat bread, choose whole grain brain, instead of white bread
In general, you can’t go wrong if you stick to eating mostly these foods:
- Beans and other Legumes
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
The infographic below shows 34 healthy and delicious high-fiber foods. Eat some of these every day and increase your odds of long-term health and longevity!