High fiber foods – beneficial in so many ways

November 12, 2012

High fiber foods – beneficial in so many ways

Including a lot of high fiber foods in your diet has many benefits for health – foods that are high in dietary fiber are known to leave us feeling fuller for longer, they also offer protection against cardiac disease and stroke and of course encourage the digestive system to work properly and so avoid the unpleasant effects of constipation.

What is fiber?

Dietary fiber is found in plant material, it is, effectively, the skeleton of the plant. Our digestive system cannot, in fact, digest dietary fiber – which begs the question, if we can’t digest it why is it so good for us? The answer is quite simple. The high fiber foods we consume pass through our small intestine, into the colon and are excreted from the body. In doing this the dietary fibre keeps the colon healthy and the digestive system regular. High fiber foods may be thought of as colonic cleansers!

Fats, toxins and fiber

Some types of dietary fiber will also bind with some of the fats and toxins present in the body, this characteristic offers great benefits in reducing the risk of diseases such as diverticulitis as well as maintaining regular, soft bowel movements.

Many high fiber foods are known to be beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels – which in turn reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Wonder foods!

High fiber foods may well be thought of as wonder foods since their benefits to health are so extensive. Research shows that foods rich in dietary fiber not only reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke but also -

  • Obesity

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Certain cancers

  • Diabetes

  • Encourage weight loss

  • Soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is known to help reduce cholesterol levels – most importantly the levels of LDL, or ‘bad’, cholesterol. Soluble fiber prolongs the digestive time of foods and helps regulate blood sugar levels by binding with fatty acids in the stomach during digestion. Soluble fiber is readily found in many foods including -

  • Dried and fresh pulses and legumes

  • Oats and oat bran

  • Flaxseed

  • Psyllium husks

  • Oranges and apples

  • Carrots

Insoluble fiber

Insoluble fiber is responsible for moving waste through the digestive system into the bowel, and in so doing also removes toxins from the colon and balances acidity. Insoluble fiber is also found in a number of foods, including -

  • Whole wheat and wheat bran

  • Cauliflower and green beans

  • The skin of fruits

  • Root vegetables

Recommended daily intake

Most of us only eat around 10 grams of high fiber foods daily – when in fact the recommended daily intake is at least 30 grams. Increasing levels of dietary fiber makes great sense for many of the reasons outlined above and is also easy to do since it is present in so many foods. Choosing to eat more of the foods with high levels of dietary fiber will mean eating more items from the following categories

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Pulses and legumes

  • Dried fruit

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