How Do High-Fiber Foods Affect Your Health?

April 4, 2011

high fiberYou may have heard that high-fiber foods are an excellent choice for those trying to lose weight – and they are – but they’re good for you for a number of other reasons as well.

One health benefit of eating high-fiber foods is that they encourage a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract because much of the fiber passes through the large and small intestines intact. This so-called “roughage” is good for all sorts of health issues from colon cancer to diverticulitis to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In addition, we’re just starting to understand the role a healthy GI tract plays in everything from your immune system to aging. A high-fiber diet seems to encourage the “good bugs” in your GI tract to flourish, helping them keep so-called “bad bugs” in balance.

Fiber, and especially the type known as soluble fiber, has also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, all major illnesses also linked to obesity and the typical high-fat, low-fiber American diet.

Fiber is also great for people trying to lose weight because most foods high in fiber are also naturally low in calories, meaning they help you feel full and satisfied without adding up. That’s why foods rich in fiber can be a dieter’s best friend, helping to fight off hunger and cravings.

Women should aim for a fiber intake of between 21 and 25 grams per day, while men should shoot for 30 to 38 grams. Check food labels to discover the fiber content of the foods you eat, or choose some from the following list of great fiber picks:

Food                                                    Serving Size                Grams of fiber

Split Peas, cooked                                1 cup                            16.3

Lentils, cooked                                      1 cup                            15.6

Black beans, cooked                            1 cup                            15.0

Artichoke, cooked                               1 medium                    10.3

Peas, cooked                                           1 cup                            8.8

Raspberries                                              1 cup                            8.0

Apple, with skin                                      1 medium                   4.4

Spaghetti, whole wheat, cooked       1 cup                            6.2

Pearl barley, cooked                             1 cup                            6.0

Pear, with skin                                          1 medium                     5.5

Bran flakes                                                  ¾ cup                           5.3

Broccoli, steamed                                    1 cup                            5.1

Oatmeal, cooked, all kinds                    1 cup                            4.0

Source: U.S. Dept of Agriculture, National Nutrient Database

As you can see, there are many tasty high-fiber choices. Get creative about pairing them up and you can do even better! Try starting your day with oatmeal or bran flakes and raspberries, for example, or make a satisfying soup with black beans and pearl barley.

This week, start making a conscious effort to boost your fiber intake, and I have a feeling you’ll find sticking to your weight loss goals a whole lot easier and more satisfying!

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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Comments (4)

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