07-04-2021 / Health and Fitness

Importance of Dietary Fibre - Dietary Fibre Foods and Vegetables

Dietary fiber is a part of the plant-based diet that cannot be digested or absorbed by your body; it is also perceived as bulk or roughage. Here are few details about dietary fiber and the benefit of dietary fiber

 Importance of Dietary Fibre - Dietary Fibre Foods and Vegetables
Mazia Ahmed Mazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar

Introduction

  • You must have heard it before that dietitians insist on eating more fiber. But are you fully aware of why fiber is good for your health? Dietary fiber is found mainly in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. It has the capacity to prevent or soothe constipation. But fiber-rich foods can provide other essential health benefits as well, such as lowering the risk of diabetes, some types of cancers, heart diseases, etc. Choosing tasty foods that do provide fiber is not hard. You have to find out how much dietary fiber you require, the types of foods that contain it, and how you can add them to snacks and meals.

  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics proposes that for every 1,000 calories you absorb daily, you eat nearly 14 grams of fiber. This means that roughly 24 grams of fiber are needed for women, and 38 grams of fiber is needed for men. Researchers have found that dietary fiber intake through millet or a wheat-based diet is usually higher than a rice-based diet.

Consumption of Dietary fibre in India

What is dietary fiber?

Dietary fiber is a part of the plant-based diet that cannot be digested or absorbed by your body; it is also perceived as bulk or roughage. Unlike other food elements, such as carbohydrates, fats, or proteins, your body cannot easily break down and absorb the fiber. Instead, it passes somewhat unchanged through your abdomen, small intestine, colon, and out of your body.

Classification of fiber

Fiber is generally classified as soluble (dissolves in water) or insoluble (does not dissolve in water).

1. Soluble fiber

This type of fiber dissolves in the water and forms a gel-like substance. It helps in lowering glucose levels and blood cholesterol. Soluble fiber can be found in beans, oats, apples, pears, citrus fruits, barley, carrots, and psyllium (isabgol).

2. Insoluble fiber

  • This type of fiber stimulates the material movement through your digestive system and increases stool bulk. Hence it can be beneficial to those who strive with irregular stools or constipation. Insoluble fiber can be found in whole-wheat flour, nuts, wheat bran, beans, etc. It is also present in various vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, and green beans.

  • The quantity of insoluble and soluble fiber varies in different plant-based foods. To obtain considerable health benefits, you should eat a broad combination of high-fiber foods.

high-fiber foods

Benefits of dietary fiber:

1. Reducing cholesterol

The presence of fiber in the digestive system helps reduce the cholesterol absorption of your body. This is particularly true if you use statins (medications to lower cholesterol) and take fiber supplements such as psyllium (isabgol) fiber.

2. Promoting a healthy weight

High fiber diets like vegetables and fruits tend to contain low calories. Also, the presence of fiber can slow the digestion process in the stomach to let you feel fuller for a longer time.

3. Aids in achieving a healthy weight

High-fiber foods are more filling than low-fiber foods, so it becomes possible to eat less and remain satisfied for a more extended period. High-fiber foods take longer to consume and are less energy-dense, which means they contain fewer calories for a similar amount of food.

4. Adding bulk to the digestive tract

People who suffer from constipation or a passive digestive tract should add fiber to their daily diet. Fiber can naturally add bulk to the digestive tract. As your body does not digest it, this increases intestinal movement.

5. Promoting blood sugar control

Our body takes longer to break down foods that are high in fiber. This enables you to conserve more invariant blood sugar levels, which is especially beneficial for those who have diabetes.

6. Reducing gastrointestinal cancer risk 

  • Eating the required amount of fiber can protect you against specific types of cancers, including colon cancer. There are multiple reasons for this. One such reason is that many fibers (like pectin in apples) contain antioxidant-like properties which prevent cancer. 

  • Fiber gives numerous health benefits, but it is essential to gradually incorporate foods rich in fiber over a few days to avert adverse effects, such as gas and bloating.

Here's a list of some high-fiber foods that are both satisfying and healthy:

1. Pears

The pear is a traditional fruit that is both nutritious and tasty. It is one of the excellent fruit sources of fiber. It contains 5.5 grams of fiber in a medium-sized raw pear and 3.1 grams of fiber per 100 grams.

2. Apples

These are among the tastiest and most fulfilling fruits to eat. They are also relatively high in fiber.  In a medium-sized raw apple, 4.4 grams of fiber is present (2.4 grams of fiber per 100 grams).

3. Bananas

Bananas are an excellent source of numerous nutrients, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. An unripe or green banana contains a substantial percentage of resistant starch (a kind of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like fiber). You can try them with a nut butter sandwich to get some protein too. The fiber content in a medium-sized banana is 3.1 grams, or 2.6 grams fiber per 100 grams.

high-fiber foods that are both satisfying and healthy

4. Beets

The beetroot, or beet, is a type of root vegetable high in many vital nutrients, such as iron, copper, folate, manganese, and potassium. Apart from that, they are also loaded with fiber. You can have them as lemon beet salad. Per cup of raw beets contains 3.8 grams of fiber, or per 100 grams contains 2.8 grams of fiber.

5. Lentils

Lentils are very inexpensive and come among the vastly nutritious foods. They are incredibly high in protein and packed with many valuable nutrients. You can make the lentil soup (without straining), seasoned with cumin, turmeric, coriander, and cinnamon. Per cup of cooked lentils has 13.1 grams of fiber, or 7.3 grams fiber per 100 grams.

6. Kidney beans 

Kidney beans are a popular variety of legumes. They are enriched with various nutrients and plant-based protein. A cup of cooked beans contains 12.2 grams of fiber or 6.8 grams of fiber per 100 grams.

7. Split peas

Split peas are made by the dried, cut, and peeled pea seeds. The fiber content in a cup of cooked split peas is 16.3 grams, or 8.3 grams fiber per 100 grams.

8. Oats

Oats come among the healthiest grain foods in the world. Oats are known to be enriched in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. They encompass a powerful soluble fiber known as beta-glucan, which has remarkable positive effects on cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Oats have become an on-the-go idea for easy breakfast recipes. The fiber content in one cup of raw oats is 16.5 grams, or 10.1 grams fiber per 100 grams.

9. Popcorn

If your motive is to boost your fiber intake, popcorn can be the best snack to have. Air-popped popcorns are very high in fiber. One cup of air-popped popcorn contains 1.15 grams of fiber, or 14.4 grams fiber per 100 grams.

10. Almonds

Almond is a type of tree nut. It is one of the most popular kinds of nuts consumed by many people around the world. They are very rich in many nutrients, including vitamin E, healthy fats, magnesium, and manganese. Almonds can also be used for baking in the form of almond flour, which provides a dose of additional nutrients. Three tablespoons of almond contain 4 grams of fiber, or 100 grams of almond contain 13.3 grams of fiber.

11. Sweet potatoes

The sweet potato is a popular root fruit that is very filling and possesses a savory-sweet flavor. It is very high in vitamin B, beta carotene, and other various minerals. Sweet potatoes can be used as a tasty bread alternative. The fiber content of a medium-sized boiled sweet potato without skin contains 3.8 grams of fiber, or 2.5 grams fiber per 100 grams of sweet potatoes.

12. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate comes under the list of the world's well-known, most delicious foods. It is also surprisingly enriched in nutrients and one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet. Make sure to select a bar of dark chocolate with 70-95% of cocoa or higher. You must avoid products that tend to be packed with added sugar. A 1-ounce chunk of 70–85% cacao contains a fiber content of 3.1 grams, or 10.9 grams fiber per 100 grams.

Word of Wisdom

Fiber is an essential nutrient that can facilitate lower blood sugar levels, weight loss, and fight constipation. It helps you to live a long and fulfilling life. By increasing your dietary fiber intake, especially cereal fiber, you can decrease the risk of deaths from cancers and cardiovascular diseases. But try not to consume an excessive amount of fiber as it may result in gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and loose stools/constipation. You can consult your doctor to find out how much fiber you need daily according to your health conditions.

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