They are divided into:
- Soluble fiber (they dissolve in water and convert into a viscous gel which slows the passage of food through the system)
- Insoluble fiber (does not dissolve in water but absorbs it to speed up the digestion and increases the volume of stool)
Both types of fiber have their own advantages and applications in the treatment or prevention of various diseases.
To get a clear picture about which foods have fiber and to what extent, we made a list with the amount of fiber in a variety of food per cup capacity of 250ml:
Foods rich in fiber
- Fruits (1.1 grams of fiber per cup)
- Dark-green vegetables (6,4g per cup)
- Orange vegetables (2,1g)
- Cooked beans (8,0g)
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes (1.7g)
- Other vegetables (1.1g)
- Whole grains (5g)
- Meat (0.2 g)
Note: These figures are not completely accurate because all vegetables and fruits have different numbers, but they give you a good idea of where the fibers are found the most.
Heart and fibers
By consuming foods rich in fiber you may prevent or treat heart disease and circulatory system. It has been shown that fiber lowers the cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption during digestion but also it interferes with the bile acids in the metabolism.
This reduction of cholesterol is not much, but it is not negligible.
There is also evidence that high-fiber foods can lower blood pressure in people who have problems with hypertension.
Fiber (especially soluble) slows the absorption of glucose (sugar) from the food. This is very useful for people with diabetes because they have problems with blood sugar control.
Their bodies are not as effective in cleansing up the sugar stocks as the body of a healthy person. Because of that they are recommended to eat smaller meals at first, and secondly – foods rich in fiber, so as to avoid a sudden rise in blood sugar.
The fibers can be very useful in the treatment of digestive problems such as constipation, diverticulosis, irritable bowel disease or Crohn’s disease.
In constipation help the insoluble fibers which absorb water and speed up the passage of food through digestion. Examples of such foods that help constipation are: plums, pears, broccoli, peas, spinach, Swiss chard.
In diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease help foods that are rich in soluble fiber because the soluble fiber in contact with water creates a viscous gel that slows the digestion and bowel evacuation and thus can prevent diarrhea or at least it can be reduced.
Examples of such foods are rice, peeled apples, artichoke, boiled potatoes, oatmeal, boiled carrots, soybeans, sweet potatoes.
For weight loss
Food rich in fiber is the greatest ally of obese people in their attempts to lose weight. The first reason is that the fibers activate the satiety signals in the body, and the other is that the fibers give volume to the food, and they do not have calorific value.
100g apple and 100g of chocolate are heaven and earth by the calorific value. You need to eat 5 of these apples to reach the number of calories in one chocolate.
Possible impact on longevity
One major scientific study on 388,000 adults between 50 to 71 years observed these people over a period of 9 years and showed that those who consumed foods rich in fiber were 22% less likely to die during this period.
A possible explanation for this is that the fibers are good for the heart, so they reduce the risk of heart attacks but also the risk for infectious and respiratory diseases. So your mother was right when she said that you have to eat more fruits and vegetables!
For adults it is recommended that they enter 20-35 grams of fiber a day. Approximately one pound of fruits and vegetables a day is enough to achieve these figures, although we can find fiber in bread and even meat.
It is important to note that the sudden increase of fiber in the diet can cause digestive problems such as gases, bloating and abdominal cramps. If you plan to enrich your diet with fiber, you have to do it gradually, so that your digestive system adjusts easily to this change.