Weekly Wellness: The mystery of the missing nutrients (part 2)
COLUMBIA - In today's fast-paced, no-time-to-cook world, it's no wonder we are missing out on one incredibly necessary nutrient. This mystery is ONLY found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts. And since our bodies can't digest or break down this nutrient, it has practically no calories. So what is this mysterious necessity?
Why we need it: Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that moves throughout our bodies, helping promote digestion and prevent constipation, as well as potentially reducing cholesterol levels. There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber can help lower glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood, while insoluble fiber helps food move through the digestive system properly. Consuming enough soluble fiber can reduce risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and protect the arteries, while the consumption of insoluble fiber can help treat digestive issues.
Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber does not dissolve in water and is known as a bulking agent. It's good for bowel regularity and elimination, since it absorbs water and makes stools softer. Insoluble fiber also tends to speed up the movement of food in the digestive tract. It can help prevent hemorrhoids and diverticulosis, and it may help prevent colon cancer.
Soluble fiber: This fiber does dissolve in water and it forms a gel-like substance in the stomach which slows down the movement of food throughout the digestive tract. It's been shown to help lower blood cholesterol and help control blood sugar levels in diabetics.
How much we need: The recommended daily intake of dietary fiber is 25g per day for women and 38g per day for men.
How to get it: 1/2 cup black beans (6.1g), 1 medium pear (5.5g), 1/2 cup fresh raspberries (4g), 1 medium sweet potato baked with skin (3.8g)
List of top 10 foods highest in fiber:
- Whole grains
- Brown rice
- Nuts (specifically almonds, pecans, and walnuts)
- Baked potato with skin
- Bran cereal