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Love Your Heart, Eat Your Fiber

Here’s a quick quiz:

1. Soluable fiber does not dissolve in water.

a. True

b. False

 

2. What are the best sources of insoluable fiber?

a. Carrots

b. Beans

c. Whole wheat

d. b and c

Fiber is an important part of our diet. It creates a feeling of fullness and keeps us all “regular.”

We have two different types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. The difference between the two is one’s ability to dissolve in water, along with several health advantages.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It assists with stimulating the movement of material through the digestive system. Eating more insoluble fiber can be helpful to those who experience constipation or irregular stools. Insoluble fiber is found in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, potatoes, green beans and cauliflower.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gellike material. It can be beneficial for lowering blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in food sources such as oats, peas, beans, citrus fruits and carrots.

Fiber not only helps keep our digestive system in check, but it also benefits many other parts of our body.

Heart disease: Soluble fiber may help lower total blood cholesterol, as well as the low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol. Eating foods high in fiber also may have other health benefits, such as decreasing blood pressure and inflammation.

Weight management: A fiber-rich diet will slow the digestion process, as well as create a feeling of fullness sooner, resulting in earlier satiety cues and fewer calories consumed.

Diabetes: Consuming foods that have soluble or insoluble fiber may be beneficial for those with diabetes. Soluble fiber creates a gellike consistency to slow the digestion of food, which allows the body to better regulate blood glucose levels after meals. Insoluble fiber is helpful in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Digestive issues: Fiber consumption is beneficial to the formation and frequency of bowel movements. Insoluble fiber, found in whole-wheat flour, is known to help alleviate constipation and irregular stools. A fiber-rich diet also may help lower a person’s risk for colon cancer.

Nutrition experts recommend 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories per day, or 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men each day. Amounts may vary depending on your energy needs.

Try these tips to increase fiber intake:

  • Find recipes that incorporate oats in baked goods, meat loaf, etc.
  • Add beans to salads or soups.
  • Chop vegetables to add to pasta or stir-fry dishes.
  • Add fruit to cereal, pancakes or smoothies.

 

Foods High in Fiber

Grams per ½ cup, cooked

% Daily Value

Black beans

7.5

25

Raspberries

4.0

13

Whole-wheat pasta

3.1

10

Broccoli

2.6

10

Drink plenty of water and increase fiber intake slowly to keep bowel movements regular.

Answers: 1. False; 2. D.


Sources:
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/fiber

U.S. Department of Agriculture. www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400530/pdf/DBrief/12_fiber_intake_0910.pdf

American Heart Association. www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/whole-grains-refined-grains-and-dietary-fiber


McKenzie Schaffer, Dietetic Intern, NDSU


Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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