When was the last time you thought about fiber? ~ It’s not as sexy as adaptogens, probiotics, or collagens, to be sure. But fiber is essential for health and chances are you’re not getting enough of it. Not to worry, I’ve got lots of delicious ways to fix all that!
What is fiber?
Fiber is the portion of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. There are 2 types, soluble and insoluble. Basically soluble fiber dissolves in our digestive tract while insoluble doesn’t.
How much fiber do you need?
Mayo Clinic daily recommendations ~ if you’re under 50, women should be eating 25 grams of fiber a day, and men 38. If you’re over 50 you get a little break, women need 21 grams, and men 30.
What does fiber do for the body?
- lowers bad cholesterol
- lowers blood sugar
- helps lower blood pressure
- helps lower inflammation
- promotes healthy digestion
- helps control weight
- can help us live longer
What foods are high in fiber?
- Legumes are some of the best sources of dietary fiber : includes lentils, chickpeas, and other beans, dried or canned.
- Whole grains are another major source of dietary fiber, the less processed the better: whole wheat, barley, and bran are great sources, and oats are a great gluten free option.
- Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, corn, winter squash
- Some nuts and seeds, especially almonds and chia seeds
- Some fruits, especially raspberries, as well as pears, apples
- Notice all these foods are plant based. Animal products including dairy do not contain fiber.
Beans are among the best sources of fiber out there, both soluble and insoluble. It’s no secret I love to cook with beans, I’ll cook a big bean salad or chili on Sunday and snack on it all week long, getting that extra dose of fiber every day.
Left ~ Easy Lentil Chili
Whole grains (no white flour or white pasta) are great sources of fiber, too, particularly insoluble fiber. One trick is to make it a habit to start your day with oatmeal or oat bran cereal. You’ll get a head start on daily fiber. If you’re not a fan of hot cereal, try delicious meusli or bake up some bran muffins!
Left ~ Beef and Barley Soup
Lots of vegetables are great sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber, too, like broccoli, peas, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, and most greens like spinach and kale. Keep in mind that the darker the veggie, the higher the fiber, so when you make that salad, go for the deepest greens you can find.
Left ~ Brussels Sprout Carbonara
Right ~ Broccoli Honeycrisp Slaw
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds can be a good source of insoluble fiber. Chia seeds, flax, and almonds are among the best choices, and also contain lots of healthy fats, too, so they are a win-win.
Right ~ Chia Coconut Pudding Popsicles
Some of your favorite fruits are high in fiber, who knew? Raspberries were one of the most surprising sources of fiber I came across in my research. And fruits like apples and pears are so easy to fit into our diet. Remember fresh fruit is great, but dried fruit also counts.
Left ~ Pink Applesauce
Right ~ Easy Raspberry Galette