Weekly Wellness Fiber 101

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COLUMBIA - "What is fiber and why is it so important to our daily nutrition?"

Dietary fiber is all parts of plant foods that your body can't digest or absorb. While fats, proteins and carbohydrates are broken down and absorbed by the body, fiber isn't. It remains relatively intact while it moves through your stomach, intestine, colon and out. Fiber is generally classified as soluble or insoluble.

"What is the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber?"

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber doesn't.

When soluble fiber is dissolved in water it forms a gel-like substance that will move through your system like a nutritional version of Liquid Plumber (weird to think of, right?). Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.

Insoluble fiber is the type that moves material through your digestive system by bulking up your waste to promote regular elimination. (In other words, if you are someone who suffers from constipation, you'll want to pay attention to your insoluble fiber intake.) Sources of insoluble fiber are whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes.

Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, the amount of each type varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods.

"What are the benefits of eating a high-fiber diet?"

  • Normalizing bowel movements and maintaining overall bowel health.
  • Lowering cholesterol.
  • Controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Achieving and maintaining healthy weight.
  • Potentially preventing colorectal cancer.

"How much fiber should I be eating?"

  • Women age 50 or younger: 25 grams
  • Women age 51 or older: 21 grams
  • Men age 50 or younger: 38 grams
  • Men age 51 or older: 30 grams

"How much fiber is in a serving of my favorite food?"

Oat bran, raw (1 ounce): 12 g
Wheat bran, raw (1 ounce): 12 g
Lima beans, cooked (1 cup): 14 g
Black beans, cooked (1 cup): 15 g
Garbanzo beans, cooked (1 cup): 12 g
Kidney beans, cooked (1 cup): 16 g
Navy beans, cooked (1 cup): 19 g
White beans, small, cooked (1 cup): 19 g
Raspberries, raw (1 cup): 8 g
Blueberries, raw (1 cup): 4 g
Strawberries, raw (1 cup): 3 g
Popcorn, air popped (3 cups): 4 g
Quinoa, cooked (1 cup): 5 g
Wild rice, cooked (1 cup): 3 g
Brown rice, cooked (1 cup): 4 g
Peas, green, frozen (1 cup): 14 g
Spinach, cooked (1 cup): 4 g
Almonds (1 ounce): 4 g
Pistachio nuts (1 ounce): 3 g
Cashews (1 ounce): 1 g
Peanuts (1 ounce): 2 g
Walnuts (1 ounce): 2 g
Flaxseed (1 ounce): 8 g
Acorn squash, cooked (1 cup): 9 g
Spaghetti squash, cooked (1 cup): 2 g
Kale, cooked (1 cup): 3 g
Cauliflower, cooked (1 cup): 5 g
Broccoli, cooked (1 cup): 5 g
Brussels sprouts, cooked (1 cup): 6 g
Russet potato, flesh and skin (1 medium): 4 g
Red potato, flesh and skin (1 medium): 3 g
Sweet potato, flesh and skin (1 medium): 4 g
Banana (1 medium): 3 g
Pear (1 medium): 6 g
Orange (1 medium): 4 g
Apple (1 medium): 4 g
Prunes, dried (1/2 cup): 6 g
Raisins (2 ounces): 2 g
Peaches, dried (1/4 cup): 3 g
Figs, dried (1/2 cup): 8 g
Avocado, raw (1/2 fruit): 9 g
Edamame, frozen (1 cup): 6 g