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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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It’s All About the Fiber

Learn about what fiber is and where to find it.

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Bags of beans.“Eat more fiber!” Sound familiar? It seems like we are told this advice almost daily, with this superstar nutrient filling up the pages of nutrition newsletters and articles in health magazines.

So, what exactly is fiber and where can you find it? Fiber helps to regulate bowel movements, lower cholesterol, and even aid in weight loss. 

Fiber is only found in plant products —another great reason to adopt a plant-based diet! Most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans contain a healthy dose of this superstar nutrient. The average American consumes between 10 to 14 grams of dietary fiber per day, a number well below the recommended daily amount of 21 (for women over 50) to 38 grams (for men under 50)!

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

  • Soluble fiber uses the aid of water to help move through our system. This type of fiber acts like a “sponge” to form a gel to moderate blood sugar and help lower cholesterol. Since this type of fiber is water-soluble, make sure to drink lots of water throughout the day to help this fiber do what it does best! Great sources of soluble fiber include:
    • oats
    • beans
    • barley
    • fruits
    • vegetables
  • Insoluble fiber does not absorb water and passes through our system in its original form. This type of fiber acts like a “broom,” helping to sweep our digestive tract by promoting movement through the digestive system and can be of huge benefit for those who struggle with constipation! Great sources of insoluble fiber include:
    • whole-wheat flour
    • wheat bran
    • nuts
    • vegetables (with the skin) 

Here are some simple ways to incorporate more fiber-rich foods into your diet:

  • Snack away! Fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, and low-fat popcorn are all high in fiber and will help tide you over to the next meal. My favorite at the moment is dried tart cherries and almonds!
  • Switch from processed (white) grains to whole-wheat products! This includes breads, pastas, cereals, and even baking flour.
  • Go vegetarian a few nights a week by replacing meat with beans. You will be surprised with the different ways beans can be used to create a healthy, yummy dish!

The key with a high-fiber diet is to start slow. If you are not used to consuming large amounts of fiber, slowly incorporating these foods into your diet will help minimize any gas or bloating (take Beano to reduce gas!)

Fiber up!

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Nutrition , Whole Grains

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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