What is fiber?
Fiber is the part of plant foods that is not digested by the human body. It lends structure, texture, and support to plants, yet it does not have any caloric value. It is, however, considered to be a complex carbohydrate. Notice that fiber is part of PLANT foods. It is not generally associated with animal products. For example, you certainly won’t find it in meat or dairy products.
Where can I find fiber?
Fiber is in whole plant foods, like:
- Whole grains
- Beans, peas, and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
Make a healthy plate!
That’s one of the reasons MyPlate recommends that people fill half their plates with fruits and veggies at each meal plus making an additional one quarter of the plate whole grains. There’s tons of fiber in those foods!
Are there different types of fiber?
Yes. While the total amount of dietary fiber in your diet is what’s important, we typically classify fiber as either soluble or insoluble.
- Lowers blood cholesterol
- Helps to control blood sugar
- Makes you feel full after a meal
Sources of soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, barley, rye, peas, beans, carrots, apples, and oranges.
- Gets credit for promoting GI health.
- Prompts normal laxation.
- Absorbs water, which makes things easier on your digestive tract.
Sources of insoluble fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, wheat bran, brown rice and other whole grains.
In real life, the distinction between fibers is not so simple. Fiber-rich foods usually have both types of fiber, and a high-fiber diet should provide enough of each. It is your total fiber intake that counts.
How much fiber do I need?
It’s estimated that prehistoric man ate 77-120 grams of fiber a day! That’s much more than today’s experts recommend for adults (25-38 grams/day). This can be achieved by eating a plant-based diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
A high-fiber diet has many health benefits, including...
Decreased risk of...
- Heart disease
Positive impact on...
- Weight control
- Weight loss
- Gastrointestinal health
Fun Fiber Tips
Not sure how to manage your fiber intake? Try these tips!
- Instead of adding supplements to a low-fiber diet, eat high fiber foods!
- Eat a high fiber breakfast with whole grain cereals, fruit, and/or whole grain toast.
- Make beans the center of one or two meals per week. More is better!
- Drink plenty of water. This is important when increasing fiber intake.
- Try to eat 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies every day.
- When in doubt, follow MyPlate. In fact, just follow MyPlate. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal.
- Get 2.5 to 5 hours of aerobic exercise every week as per the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans - this will help keep things moving.
Brought to you by: TheNutritionEducationStore.com. Check out our Fiber posters, PowerPoint Shows, games, and handouts that all discuss fiber, its impact on health, sources of each type of fiber, and much more!
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.