Dietary fiber is a healthy part of the plant foods we eat that cannot be broken down by our body. You may be asking yourself, how can something I can’t digest be good for me? Not only do the different types of fibers found in plant foods improve digestion by regulating common problems such as constipation and diarrhea, they lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels, create a feeling of fullness so we eat less, and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
When you see the orange fiber icon on a menu item, it means that it has more than 2 grams of fiber to help promote a healthy digestive system.
Types of Fiber
There are two different types of fiber that can provide these health benefits when we eat enough:Soluble fibers
are found in many fruits, beans, oat bran, and psyllium (used in many fiber supplements). These fibers dissolve in water and turn to a gel during digestion. This helps slow digestion making us feel full and ultimately helps control blood sugar levels. Additionally, the gel acts like a sponge, trapping excess blood cholesterol and carrying it out of the body. Excellent sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, strawberries, pears, citrus fruits, apples, lentils and other beans.
are found in the skin of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat, have not had the outer layer of the grain removed, and contain much more dietary fiber than white rice and refined white flour. Unlike soluble fibers, insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water and make stool move easier through the body. This decreases constipation and lowers the risk of colon cancer.1 Good sources of insoluble fiber include oatmeal, whole wheat, brown rice, nuts, seeds, carrots, green beans, and lentils.Handy Tip #1:
For quick and easy way to spot whole grain products in the grocery store, look for the golden-yellow Whole Grain Stamp on cereal, bread, and snack products. Click here
to learn more about the Whole Grain Stamp.
The average American only consumes about 15 grams of fiber per day, considerably less than the recommended levels for each life stage.1 The Adequate Intakes (AI) of fiber for children is as follows: