Health Benefits of Fiber

Health Benefits of Fiber

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  1. Dietary fiber provides significant health benefits and can reduce one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and digestive disorders.  Additional health benefits of fiber include its impact on weight control and weight loss.  The recommended daily intake of dietary fiber for both children and adults is 14 grams per every 1,000 calories consumed.  For most individuals this equates to a target range of 20-35 grams of fiber per day.  So what exactly is fiber and how does it fit into a healthy diet?

    Dietary fiber comes from the portion of plants that is not digested in the body.  Fiber is classified into two categories, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber is able to partially dissolve in water and insoluble fiber cannot dissolve in water.  To achieve the complete health benefits of fiber, it is important to include both types of fiber in your diet as each type of fiber impacts your body differently.

    Sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, nuts, legumes, beans, strawberries, apples and blueberries.  Soluble fiber:

    • Lowers Blood Cholesterol Levels
    • Reduces Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
    • Controls Blood Glucose Levels
    • Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

    Sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, cereals, beans, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, brown rice and seeds.  Insoluble fiber:

    • Lowers Risk of Diverticulitis (a painful inflammation of the intestine)
    • Reduces Constipation
    • Controls Body Weight
    • Aids in Weight Loss

    High-fiber foods are usually low in calories and fat, so they can aid in maintaining a healthy weight.  In addition, because insoluble fiber is not absorbed or dissolved as it goes through the body, it provides a feeling of being full.  This typically results in fewer calories being consumed, so insoluble fiber can assist with moderate weight loss.

    By making moderate changes to your diet, it’s easy to increase your daily fiber intake.  Simple steps include adding blueberries or strawberries to a high-fiber cereal.  Or, adding tomatoes, zucchini and other vegetables to a whole grain pasta dish.  Gradually increase your daily fiber intake and in time you’ll find it easy to hit the daily target range of 20-35 grams.  And with the diverse health benefits of fiber, making changes to your diet can have a positive impact on your overall health.

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