The Facts on Fiber
Categories: Health Wellness 
Published: September 05, 2023
Author: Stacey Colino
U.S News
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The Facts On Fiber

You’ve probably heard that fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. But if you’re like most people, you’re not consuming nearly enough of this vital carbohydrate.

Overhead view of a large group of food with high content of dietary fiber arranged side by side. The composition includes berries, oranges, avocado, chia seeds, wholegrain bread, wholegrain pasta, whole wheat, potatoes, oat, corn, mixed beans, brazil nut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, pistachio, banana among others.

One of the main reasons: Processed foods.

“We’re eating more processed foods, and processed foods often take out the fiber,” says Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, a professor of nutrition and food sciences at George Mason University and an adjunct professor in the department of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

That’s unfortunate because dietary fiber provides a whole host of specific health benefits.

What Is Dietary Fiber?

“Fiber is by definition indigestible plant material,” explains Dr. David Katz, a preventive medicine specialist, past president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and co-author of “How to Eat.” “Dietary fiber is not digested and, therefore, neither absorbed nor stored in the body.”

There are two types of fiber, both of which are beneficial to human health:

1. Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the stomach, slows digestion. It also can help control your blood sugar and decrease blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fibers include guar gum, psyllium, pectin and beta-glucan, Katz notes. You’ll find soluble fiber in citrus fruits, apples, oats, barley, beans, peas, lentils, carrots and broccoli.

2. Insoluble fiber, which doesn’t dissolve in water, reduces transit time in the gastrointestinal tract and increases bulk in stools, which can help keep you regular. Noteworthy types of insoluble fiber include lignins, cellulose and hemicellulose. Good food sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, oat bran, wheat bran, nuts and seeds, potatoes, green beans, zucchini and cauliflower.

What Are the Best High-Fiber Foods?

Some of the best high-fiber foods include:

  • Beans and legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Avocado.
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables.
  • Berries, apples and other whole fruits with the skin left on.
  • Carrots, beets, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables.
  • Quinoa, oatmeal, barley, brown rice and other whole grains.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 advise women to consume 22 to 28 grams of fiber per day and men to have 28 to 34 grams per day, depending on their age.

But the reality is 90% to 97% of adults in the U.S. aren’t hitting these targets for dietary fiber. In fact, most people in the U.S. consume only half the amount of recommended fiber per day.


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