Types of Fiber

You should try to eat a variety of fiber-rich foods on a daily basis because different foods offer different types of fiber with different health benefits. You should consume both of the two main types of fiber:

  • Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber gives plants their structure. It does not dissolve in water. Common sources are wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. Insoluble fiber absorbs water, increases fecal bulk, and makes the stools easier to pass.
  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber forms a gel in water. It is found in oatmeal, barley, and kidney beans (as well as in pectin and guar gums, two fibers often added to foods and listed among the ingredients). Soluble fiber lowers blood cholesterol, particularly in people with elevated cholesterol. Soluble fiber can also help stabilize blood glucose levels, making fiber-rich snacks a wise pre-exercise choice (assuming they settle comfortably and don't make you "gas propelled"). Some sustaining preexercise snacks include oatmeal as well as beans and legumes, such as lentil soup, refried beans, and hummus, as tolerated.

You can increase your fiber intake to the U.S. dietary guidelines' recommended 28 grams per 2,000 calories by taking the following actions:

  • Enjoy fruits and vegetables at as many meals and snacks as possible.
  • Choose a high-fiber cereal (with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving), or mix high- and low-fiber cereals. Top the cereal with berries and other fruits.
  • Buy 100 percent whole-grain breads, cereals, and crackers.
  • Opt for brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, and other whole grains.
  • Add wheat germ, ground flaxseed, nuts, or sesame seeds to yogurt, cereals, and baked goods.
  • Eat more beans—in chili, sprinkled on salads, mixed with rice, made into hummus, and added to soups.
  • Snack on popcorn (homemade, using canola oil) or dried fruits and nuts.
  • Read food labels. Unexpected foods, such as some brands of orange juice and yogurt, have added fiber.

The information in table 2.4 can help you choose the foods richest in fiber.

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