3 Facts You Need to Know About Fiber

Fiber plays a key role in everything from promoting good digestion to helping you control weight. Here’s a quick snapshot of things you need to know.

Fact: Not all fiber is the same

Fiber comes from plants, and there are two kinds—soluble and insoluble—each with different functions.

Soluble fiber blocks cholesterol and fats from being absorbed through the walls of the intestines into the bloodstream. Research shows that adding just 5 to10 grams of soluble fiber to your diet every day can lower cholesterol by as much as 5%. Beans, nuts, oatmeal, and peas are all good sources.

Insoluble fiber helps the digestive tract work the way it’s supposed to. This type is found in whole grains, vegetables, and wheat bran.

You should aim for a balance of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Whole-grain foods, fruits (with the skins), vegetables, and legumes (such as dried beans and peas) typically have good levels of both.

Fact: You’re likely not eating enough fiber

Most adults in the United States eat only 15 grams of fiber a day or less— well under the 21 to 38 grams a day recommended for normal, healthy adults. The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you need. Your health care provider can tell you how much fiber you should be aiming for every day.

Fact: Fiber’s health benefits are far-reaching

The word “fiber” is instantly associated with the digestive system, but eating more fiber-rich foods impacts your overall health in many more ways: It’s been shown to potentially reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers. And if you’re trying to control weight, getting enough daily fiber can help you feel fuller after meals, so you’ll be less likely to overdo it on snacks and second helpings.

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