Fiber seems to be the word on the lips of most health-conscious people: but, why? It could be down to a few reasons – everything from a heightened interest in clean eating and healthy foods, or the boom in vegetarianism and veganism. Whatever the reason, we’re happy to see that people care, because, in case you didn’t know already, fiber is fabulous!
No need to squander money on supplements or meal replacement shakes to get enough fiber; if you follow the 8fit food philosophy and your customized meal plan, you’ll learn how easy it is to incorporate more fiber-rich foods into your diet. Even with just a few food substitutions, you’ll be well on your way to reaping the many benefits of eating foods full of fiber.
What is fiber?
We’re talking about dietary fiber (also known as roughage), a group of substances that are found naturally in plant-based foods – they consist of non-starch polysaccharides, resistant dextrins, inulin, lignins, beta glucans, waxes, and other plant parts. In effect, fiber is the portion of the plant that your body can’t digest, and that enhances your health and wellbeing in a number of ways – which we’ll get into later.
Dietary fiber is split into two categories and serve different functions:
- Soluble fiber: Also known as prebiotic fiber (food for healthy gut bacteria), this type of fiber dissolves in water. It’s viscous and can help you feel fuller for longer as well as improve blood cholesterol levels. You can find soluble fiber in foods like beans, oats, barley and some produce like citrus fruits and apples.
- Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber doesn’t dissolve in water (hence the name) and doesn’t break down as easily as soluble fiber. Some forms of it can, like soluble fiber, can be fermented in the colon. Insoluble fiber, in particular, can create a feeling of fullness and keep you regular. Foods like whole-wheat flour, nuts, beans and vegetables like cauliflower and potatoes are excellent sources of insoluble fiber.
Fiber-rich foods: Why they’re important
Fiber is your friend. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to lose or gain weight, improve digestion or generally feel better, this remarkable set of substances is essential to your overall quality of health. Let’s dig into what fiber can do for you:
- Reduces the risk of heart attack: Soluble fiber can reduce your chance of heart disease by decreasing the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body. It can also lower inflammation and steer blood pressure to healthy levels.
- Supports weight loss: Fiber keeps you fuller for longer, which can help stave off hunger pangs and cravings. How does it work? Some researchers believe that fiber soaks up water in the intestines, creating a bulking feeling that sends a signal to the brain indicating fullness.
- Aids digestion: Fiber is your bowels best friend, which is especially helpful if you suffer from constipation. However, this is primarily dependent on the type of fiber you eat – soluble fiber, in particular, is useful for healthy bowel movements. Try psyllium for natural, effective relief from constipation.
- Reduce risk of diabetes: Eating fiber-rich foods may lead to a reduced risk of diabetes. Fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. In addition, it helps keep you fuller for longer so can help reduce cravings.
8fit’s own fiber-rich foods list
Legumes and beans
Not only are legumes and beans an excellent source of protein, but they also contain heaps of fiber. Affordable, easy to prepare and versatile, they pack a serious nutritional punch and are an excellent addition to any diet. Here are a few of our top picks:
- Lentils (all kinds!)
- Split peas
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Lima beans
You’ve probably heard that whole grains are excellent for your health. Well, you heard right! They’re a super source of fiber; imagine a hearty bowl of brown rice topped with beans or legumes — fiber and flavor-forward.
Whole grains retain their bran and germ, which is where most of the fiber is. Grains like white rice, on the other hand, are missing this nutritious outer coating, making it much less nutrient-dense.
Why not add these fiber-rich foods to your plate?
- Brown rice
Calling all fruit lovers! You’ll be glad to know that fruits happen to be some of the most fiber-rich foods on the planet. We’re talking about whole, fresh, unadulterated fruits. Sorry, but fruit juices (even those without added sugar) don’t count. The process of juicing removes almost all of the fiber and leaves you with fructose sugar! Instead, stick with fresh fruits in their natural form. Below are some of our favorite fiber-dense fruits:
Pre-diabetics and diabetics:
- Apples with skin
- Pears with skin
Vegetables and starches
Eating vegetables is a must for a variety of reasons, and one is that they’re some of the most powerful fiber-rich foods out there. Some contain more fiber than others – one way to make sure you get enough is to eat the skin. Potatoes (both sweet and regular!) are some of our favorite starches, just make sure to eat the skin, as that’s where the fiber is! Here are our top picks:
- Potatoes (regular)
- Sweet potatoes
- Collard greens
- Brussels sprouts
Now that you know a little bit more about what fiber is, why not try adding more of it to your diet? It could make a difference in how you feel, lead to better digestion and even help you lose weight.
In case you’re wondering how much fiber to eat per day, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) recommends 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. If that sounds like a lot to you, try incorporating more beans, fruits, and veggies in your diet. With the right substitutions, meeting your fiber goal can be a breeze.
If calculating your fiber content for the day doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, the let 8fit do all the heavy lifting for you? Our recipes are suitable for nearly any dietary preference or pace of life. All our recipes are formulated to contain the right amount of fiber your body needs. With over 700 recipes to choose from and curated meal plans, it’s worth signing up to 8fit Pro.