Most adult Americans don’t get the fiber they need each day (25 to 30 grams). Exactly what is fiber and why is it so important? Dietary fiber is one of the three main types of carbohydrates. It’s also one of the easiest nutrients to incorporate into your diet.
There are two types of fiber:
- Soluble Fiber
Dissolves in water, absorbs water in the intestines, forms a gel-like material and slows down the rate at which your body digests glucose. You can find it in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and peas.
- Insoluble Fiber
Doesn’t dissolve in water, and it creates softer and bulkier stools as it absorbs water inside your body. Sources include wheat bran, vegetables and whole grains.
Fiber has many benefits. It can help you feel full after you eat, helping with weight-loss goals. Eating the right amount of fiber can aid in laxation and reduce your risk of developing heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. It also helps prevent Type 2 diabetes and improves blood sugar levels by slowing the body’s absorption of glucose.
You can find fiber in most fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Fill up on plenty of fiber-rich foods like beans, bran cereals, berries, apples, whole-grain bread and pasta, broccoli, sweet potatoes, almonds and sunflower seeds.