What is fiber?
Fiber is a carbohydrate that comes from the edible parts of plants, vegetables, fruits, and grains. This form of carbohydrate can't be broken down in the body, which is a good thing because it helps move food through the digestive system and it keep us full longer. Most of us probably think of oatmeal when we hear "high fiber". Oatmeal IS high in fiber and delicious, but good news, you don't have to eat it three times a day to have a high-fiber diet. We've got a lot of options that we will discuss later.
Soluble versus Insoluble?
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber absorbs water easily and turns it into a gel, therefore expanding in our bodies, adding bulk, and keeping us full. Some soluble fiber helps feed the good bacteria in our gut, also known as a prebiotic ( e.g. bananas, onion, garlic). Some examples of soluble fiber are oats, black beans, chia seeds, psyllium husks, avocados, sweet potatoes, pears, and figs.
Insoluble fiber does not digest in the body and collects all the other foods and food byproducts that our body doesn't need, helping move food through the digestive system and improving the overall health of your intestines. Some examples of insoluble fiber are the peels from fruits, wheat bran, beans, and legumes.
What are the benefits of fiber?
There are many studies about the benefits of fiber. One particular study found that fiber, especially fiber from whole grains like oats, whole wheat, and quinoa, can help lower cholesterol levels, help with metabolizing glucose, and help with regulating blood pressure.
Another study found that people who eat high amounts of fiber have a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. They also found that prebiotic fiber enhanced immune function.
Being aware of your fiber intake is especially important if you are eating a high-protein, low-carb diet. Because fiber comes from carbs, choose your carbs wisely if you are limiting your intake. Choose high fiber foods like berries, sweet potato, avocado, and chia seeds.
How much fiber should I be eating?
The average American isn't getting nearly enough... only about 15 grams. The recommended amount for women is at least 25 grams per day and for men is at least 35 grams per day.
What are examples of high fiber foods?
1 cup raspberries - 8 grams
1 large Asian pear - 10 grams
1/2 cup blackberries - 4 grams
1 banana - 3 grams
1 cup cooked quinoa - 5 grams
1 cup cooked brown rice - 4 grams
1 cup whole wheat spaghetti - 6 grams
1/2 avocado - 5 grams
1 cup cooked lentils - 16 grams
1 cup cooked black beans - 15 grams
1 cup cooked broccoli - 5 grams
1 cup cooked Brussels sprouts - 4 grams
1 cup raw butternut squash cubes - 3 grams
1 tablespoon chia seeds - 5 grams
24 raw almonds - 3 grams
2 tablespoon unsweetened cacao powder - 4 grams
What are some delicious, high fiber recipes?
French Lentils with Veggies
In this one-pot recipe, beluga lentils (so-called because of their resemblance to caviar) are simmered with leeks, thyme, onion and carrots for a dish that's hearty yet refined. Serve these lentils as a side to sausages or grilled fish, over a pile of salad greens for lunch, or topped with a fried egg for a savory breakfast.
Berry Buckwheat Crumble
This berry crumble is the answer to your gluten-free, vegan dessert prayers and it's full of healthy fiber. Buckwheat has a nutty, earthy flavor that goes beautifully with tangy and sweet berries. You can use any berries you like—strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries.