Fiber is an important, yet often overlooked, component of your diet. If you are interested in improving or maintaining cardiovascular health, you should be focusing on fiber. What is fiber? How much do we need? Where can I find it? To answer these questions, let’s take a look at some facts about fiber.

Facts about Fiber

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested by humans. There are two types of dietary fiber – soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is soluble in water and when mixed with liquid, forms a gel. Because this gel can help regulate the digestion of carbohydrates and fats, it may help control blood sugar and reduce blood cholesterol levels. You can find soluble fiber in fruit, some vegetables, oats, beans, peas, lentils, and barley. Insoluble fiber, however, does not dissolve in water but instead aids digestion by adding bulk. Insoluble fiber is found in fruits, whole grains, and vegetables.

How Much Fiber Should You Eat?

The recommended amount of dietary fiber for most adults is 25-38 grams per day. According to the American Heart Association, most adults consume only about 15 grams of fiber per day.  There are many easy ways to increase your intake of both soluble and insoluble fiber. For example, make the switch to whole-grain versions of favorite foods such as brown rice instead of white, and whole wheat pastas instead of those made with white flours.

When looking to increase your intake of fiber, you can’t go wrong with beans.  As a general rule, beans are high in fiber, with about 9 grams per half cup. An easy, tasty way to add beans to your day is eating a hearty bowl of soup. Don’t forget about fruits, because fruits, such as apples and pears are also high in fiber-if you eat the skin! Vegetables such as green peas, collards, and a fall favorite, pumpkin have about 3.5-4 grams of fiber per half cup.

To find out how much fiber is in a food, follow this link:
https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-13/

For additional information on fiber, follow these links:
1) https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/whole-grains-refined-grains-and-dietary-fiber
2) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/