The health benefits of fiber and foods that are highest in dietary fiber
Getting enough dietary fiber is an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Dietary fiber, also called roughage, includes plants, fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grain parts that your body can't fully digest.
Consider fiber an all-natural prescription to boost your physical wellbeing. It has been linked in numerous studies and scientific reviews to a lowered risk of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Fiber not only fills you up, but it also clears you out, as fiber also helps promote gut health.
Despite all of the health benefits of fiber, only 1 in 20 Americans consume enough of the nutrient, according to a 2017 article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
“We simply aren’t eating enough of the foods that are naturally high in fiber including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes,” says Michelle Hyman, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City.
“Many of the ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat convenience foods and packaged snacks are made with refined grains that are low in fiber,” she said.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that consists of many sugar molecules sewn together in a pattern that’s not easily digested in the small intestine.
Naturally occurring fiber comes packed inside plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
It’s also important to know that there are three types of fiber: Insoluble and soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber speeds up the digestive system so food and waste can move through at a more rapid clip.
Soluble fiber soaks up water like a sponge, and in turn, hinders the absorption of fat and cholesterol in the body, which helps lower the level of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in the blood and helps control blood sugar.
Soluble fiber is found in foods like oats, peas, beans, fruits, and barley. Insoluble dietary fiber is the second type that doesn't dissolve in water and stays unchanged during digestion. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods like whole-wheat flour, nuts, and vegetables such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.