Backed Up? Add These High-Fiber Foods to Your Diet
When people talk about fiber, it’s usually a slightly tongue-in-cheek reference to staying regular.
Well, like any joke, there’s an element of truth in the humor. Fiber helps keep your gastrointestinal system running smoothly, control healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels and can even help your heart stay strong.
How Much Fiber Do You Need?
Women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams per day.
Two Types of Dietary Fiber (Soluble vs Insoluble)
Oddly enough, fiber never actually gets digested, and that’s precisely why it’s so beneficial to your body.
There are two types, soluble and insoluble, but both pass through your system relatively unchanged.
The difference between the two is that soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance in your stomach, which helps slow digestion so your body can absorb as much nutrition from your food before passing it.
Insoluble fiber does not turn into gel. Instead, it maintains its consistency to make solid waste heavier and softer so it can easily make its way through your intestines.
What Happens if You Get Too Much (or Too Little)?
If your daily diet is low in fiber, you risk becoming constipated. Dietary fiber also helps your body maintain healthy blood sugar levels, so it’s important to watch your intake so your body maintains that natural process.
Fiber also plays a big role in making you feel full after a healthy meal. Too little fiber, and your body may not turn off the hunger signal in time.
Going overboard with dietary fiber, however, does mean foods will pass through your GI tract a little quicker. As a result, you may not absorb as much nutrition from your food as you should. Plus, too much fiber can also cause gas, bloating and cramping, especially at night.
How to Sneak in Fiber without Anyone Knowing
Nuts and seeds are great sources of dietary fiber, and allergies aside, most everyone will welcome a little added crunch to their meals.
Flax seeds and chia seeds are especially good sources of fiber that can be added to things like oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt or even baked goods… and chances are nobody will ever notice. You can also top your yogurt or salads with pecans or almonds for some added fiber.
If you’re a regular smoothie maker, try adding a handful of fresh, organic spinach to the blender. Or carrots.
In fact, both can be chopped, grated or pureed and added to foods like homemade banana or zucchini bread, omelets or even sprinkled over a pizza.
One more pro tip: finely chop cauliflower and use that in the place of boring white rice. You’ll enjoy a change of texture, as well as a bit of added dietary fiber.
Top High-Fiber Foods
You want to pump up the fiber content of your daily diet without turning to fiber supplements?
There’s only one place to look: the plant kingdom.
Plant products, specifically whole, unprocessed plant products, are where Mother Nature hides all her healthy soluble and insoluble fiber.
Unfortunately, the standard American diet is high in processed grains, sugar and meat, all of which have little to no fiber content.
If that sounds familiar, here are some of the best high-fiber foods, according to the Mayo Clinic, that you can add to your diet right now.
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List of the Top Foods that are High in Fiber
Fruits High in Fiber
- Pear (with skin)
- Apple (with skin)
- Dried Figs
Grains, Cereals and Pastas that are High in Fiber
- Spaghetti (whole-wheat)
- Bran Flakes
- Oat Bran Muffin
- Oatmeal (instant)
- Popcorn (air-popped)
- Brown Rice
- Rye Bread
- Whole-Wheat Bread
Legumes, Nuts and Seeds that are High in Fiber
- Split Peas
- Black Beans
- Lima Beans
- Baked Beans
- Pistachio Nuts
Vegetables that are High in Fiber
- Green Peas
- Turnip Greens
- Brussels Sprouts
- Sweet Corn
- Potato (with skin)
- Tomato Paste