Dietary fiber is essential to the body’s well-being, offering key health benefits including:
- Lowering cholesterol
- Lowering blood sugar
- Easing elimination
- Improving heart health
- Possibly reducing colon cancer risk
- Helping with weight control
But there are a variety of different ‘types’ of fiber in foods that vary in their functions and amount needed, so how do you know what’s best for your specific body and diet?
Soluble fiber, typically found in oats and in legumes like peas and lentils, is a strong choice, as it helps lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, which is typically found in wheat bran and fruit and vegetables, keeps you ‘regular’.
If only it were that simple. Some soluble fibers like oat bran and psyllium do both jobs, while others don’t seem to affect cholesterol. So, getting a mix of dietary fibers through various food sources is the best general recommendation for healthy eating.
Try to increase and vary the total amount of fiber-rich foods you eat by adding whole grains like wheat, oats, rye, barley, millet and buckwheat, along with legumes, nuts and seeds. Don’t peel off the skins of produce – they have good-for-you nutrients and help you meet your daily fiber needs.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends 25 grams of fiber a day for a 2,000 calorie diet.
Finally, be mindful that you’ll probably need to make some dietary adjustments to meet optimal fiber intake levels that don’t add more daily calories than you need in the process.
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