Healthy Eating: Fiber time
Eating more fiber is easier said than done, so check out our Top 10 list of the best and worst sources of this healthy nutrient.
Homemade Granola Photo: Courtesy/MCT
Fiber is a very hot topic within the world of nutrition. You’ll see
it splashed across product packaging and it is a buzz word among health
professionals. But do you know what fiber is, why it's so good for your
health, and where you can find it?
In simplest terms, fiber is
the part in plant foods that our body cannot digest, unlike other fats,
proteins or carbohydrates — which our bodies break down and absorb— our
bodies don’t digest fiber. It's put together in such a manner that our
bodies cannot break it down, and it passes through our bodies relatively
untouched, thereby providing us with no calories. However, even though
it may seem like fiber does not do much, as it's not even absorbed by
our system, it plays several important roles in maintaining and even
improving our health.
Among the obvious functions, fiber does all
sorts of great things for our bodies, such as lower blood cholesterol
levels, control blood sugar levels and slow digestion, thereby keeping
us feeling full longer and also helps with weight loss. So how much
fiber should be consumed each day? The National Academy of Sciences
recommends adults under age 50 should consume 25 to 38 grams, while
those over age 51 should consume 21 to 30 grams.
Fiber comes in
two forms: soluble and insoluble. The difference? Insoluble fiber keeps
our digestion moving smoothly, while soluble fiber has been shown to
reduce cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
why fiber is important, you must be wondering where one can find it?
What are the best sources of fiber? Foods like Fiber One cereal market
the fact that it is loaded with fiber goodness, but what are some other
high fiber foods? Here is a list of some of the top fiber sources on the
planet, as well as some of the biggest (fiber) traps.
1. Fiber Star: Chia Seeds
heard over and over again that Chia Seeds are an incredible source of
Omega-3 fatty acid – they even trump the omega-3 all-star, Salmon. Did
you know that this seed reigns in the fiber world? Packed with both
soluble and insoluble fiber, Chia Seeds offer 5 grams of fiber per
serving. Sprinkle them on top of your yogurt in the morning or your
salad at lunch, and start taking advantage of these tiny seeds’ major
2. Fiber Deceiver: Granola
'deceiver' applies to granola on all accounts. For the longest time
granola has been proclaimed as a healthy food, and with rolled oats,
dried fruits and nuts, why wouldn’t it be? What slips our eye most of
the time is how many calories and how much sugar is lurking inside of
this seemingly healthy food (one bowl easily crosses the 400 calorie
line). While granola does contain some fiber, it is on the very low end
(often only 3 grams per serving), and so does little to counteract the
other not-so-good-for-you ingredients.
3. Fiber Hero:Raspberries
are known for their high vitamin and anti-oxidant content, and now you
can add one more healthy nutrient to the list – fiber. Most fruits
provide a healthy supply of this important nutrient, however, the tiny
raspberry knocks most of its competition out, when it comes to fiber.
Loaded with 8 grams per cup, this serving size offers the same amount of
fiber as 3 whole grain slices of bread.
Raspberry’s fellow berry friend – the blueberry – is also jam packed with fiber.
4. Fiber Villain:Canned peaches
the most part, canned fruit contains the same nutrients as the fresh
version. However, when it comes to peaches, there is a significant
different and it is all due to the fiber. Canned peaches are peeled and
are, therefore, lacking their fibrous skin. Watch out as canned peaches,
like many canned fruits, are typically stored in sugary syrup which can
add a lot of empty calories as well as negate some of the peaches
5. Fiber Champion:Oatmeal
the perfect combination of soluble and insoluble fiber, offering an
ample supply of both. However, that’s not all. Oatmeal is rich in a
specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan, which has been proven to
lower 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels and slow down glucose absorption. It
is also the secret ingredient that helps to slow the digestion of your
meal down, allowing you to feel full and satisfied for several hours.
Now, not all oatmeal makes it onto the best fiber foods list, but the
ones that do are packed with fiber goodness. Stay clear of instant
'flavored' oatmeal, which is typically loaded with sugar. Instead, opt
for the old-fashioned kind such as groats rolled in flakes or steal-cut
6. Fiber Loser: Brownbreads
Most of us know that
white bread contains little fiber, but what about brown bread? The
grocery store shelf is typically packed with a variety of different
breads, most of them brown – but does this mean they are good for you?
Unfortunately, no. The kernel of most grains, including wheat, consists
of three main parts: the bran (the outermost layer of the grain)
followed by the endosperm (the main part of the grain) and the germ (the
smallest part of the grain). Whole grains contain all three layers and
therefore breads such as whole wheat or whole grain, which contain the
bran and germ layer (the two most nutritious parts of the grain) are not
stripped of any of their nutritional content. However, the darker color
of most brown breads in grocery stores is due to molasses and not to
the presence of the outer layers of the grain, and as a result these
breads are not a great source of fiber. To avoid falling into this
deceptive trap, make sure to check the ingredients of your bread, as
well as nutritional information to make certain it contains 3-5 grams of
fiber per serving.
7. The Fiber Underdog: Artichokes
you think of healthy fiber-loaded vegetables, broccoli and cabbage
probably come to mind, but what about artichokes? Most of the time this
veggie is easily overlooked when healthy food lists are being compiled.
However, this is a real shame, as artichokes are one of the healthiest
vegetables around. Packed full of fiber, a medium-sized artichoke offers
just over 10 grams of this healthy nutrient – that’s 40% of your daily
8.The Fiber Con Artist: Spinach artichoke dip
if artichokes are loaded with fiber, then by association shouldn’t
spinach artichoke dip be good for you? After all, it contains fiber as
well as iron and vitamin from the spinach. Unfortunately, that's the not
the case. Spinach artichoke dip is by far one of the most deceptive
foods on the planet. Just a few tablespoons pack a few hundred calories,
and not to mention mounds of unhealthy fat. Even worse, it contains no
9. The Fiber Conqueror: Avocado
a time, women avoided avocado and its high fat content like the plague.
However, times have changed and we have embraced avocados for their
high quantities of healthy unsaturated fats. But now there is one more
reason to embrace this fruit – fiber, and lots of it in fact. A whole
avocado provides13 grams of dietary fiber, that’s just over 50% of your
10. The Fiber King: Peas
It’s best to
always end on a high note, especially when talking about fiber content.
Peas typically get overshadowed on the dinner plate by other greenish
vegetables such as broccoli and green beans. However, peas can
definitely hold their own when it comes to their health benefits. Loaded
with anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, peas are one green
you should never overlook. To top it off, one cooked cup of split peas
offers a whopping 13.4 grams of fiber- that’s roughly 50 percent of
one’s daily intake of fiber.