While you know that fiber is good for you, do you know what it actually is? Do you know where to find it? Different types of fiber do different things. But soluble fiber, dietary fiber, and insoluble fiber all play a role in any high-fiber diet. Some high-fiber vegetables are so beneficial that you should be eating them every day.

The Different Types of Fiber

There are three kinds of fiber, each with unique health benefits. Here’s a quick breakdown of each one:

Dietary fiber – This is the best-known type of fiber. It’s found not only in vegetables, but also in legumes, fruits, and whole grains. Dietary fiber plays a vital role in digestion. It helps to prevent or relieve symptoms associated with constipation. It may also keep your weight in check.1 Dietary fiber is also referred to as “roughage.” It’s the type of fiber that your body can’t digest, unlike carbohydrates, proteins, or fats. This fiber serves as energy for beneficial microbes that reside in your intestinal tract. These microbes help keep your digestive system operating as it should.

Soluble fiber – Soluble fiber is found in foods like carrots, apples, beans, peas, citrus fruits and oats. It helps reduce not only glucose, but also cholesterol.2

Insoluble fiber – Insoluble fiber helps digestion by promoting the movement of waste. It also helps prevent constipation. Cauliflower is a good source of insoluble fiber, as are nuts, wheat bran, beans, potatoes, and green beans.

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Why You Need to Follow a High-Fiber Diet

There are a lot of benefits to getting enough fiber through the food you eat. Here are some of them:

· Blood sugar – Soluble fiber can help improve blood sugar levels. It slows the rate at which the body absorbs sugar.

· Digestive health – Getting enough fiber in your diet helps ensure good digestive health..

· Reducing cholesterol – Oat bran, beans, and oats are good sources of soluble fiber. This type of fiber may help reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol. Fiber may also help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure.3

· Weight control – Foods that are high in fiber promote a feeling of fullness. As a result, you’ll be less likely to overeat.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

You want to get enough fiber in your diet, but not too much. An excess of fiber can cause cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. Too much fiber moves food through your intestines too quickly. As a result, your body can’t absorb nutrients.

The amount of fiber you need to get each day depends on your age and gender. For example, if you are a woman under the age of 50, you should strive to get 25 grams of fiber each day. Women over 50 should get 21 grams per day. The recommended amount for men under the age of 50 is 38 grams, while men over 50 should get 30 grams.4

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Fiber-Rich Vegetables

All these vegetables contain lots of beneficial fiber. Try to incorporate as many of them as you can into your daily meals.

· Corn

Corn is a good source of fiber, which can help keep your colon clean. One cup provides about 4 grams.

· Brussels sprouts

One cup of brussels sprouts contains over 4 grams of fiber. This veggie is also packed with other nutrients. Among them: phosphorus, potassium, manganese, calcium, and vitamins A and C.

· Kale

Kale hasn’t reached “superfood” status for no reason. It’s loaded with fiber (4 grams per cup), as well as vitamins C, K, A, and calcium. It’s also low in calories, so eat up!5

· Celery

Celery is rich in fiber. You can get about 2 grams of fiber by eating 100 grams of celery; one stalk only contains about 6 calories. This vegetable is also high in water content, so it will help to keep you hydrated as well.

· Green beans

Green beans are chock full of fiber. One cup provides 3 grams, along with plenty of iron, potassium, and vitamin K. Green beans are also an excellent source of antioxidants.

· Pumpkin

A cup of pumpkin has almost 3 grams of fiber and contains only 49 calories. Pumpkin also has a great deal of potassium, which is essential to bone strength, as well as heart health.

· Eggplant

Eggplant might be better known for its purple color, but it’s also high in fiber. Just one cup can deliver about 10 percent of your recommended daily amount. It’s also high in vitamins B and K as well as manganese, potassium, and copper. Copper is essential to helping produce red blood cells.

· Cabbage

Cabbage contains about 3 grams of fiber per serving. Black and red cabbage may also help lower the amount of “bad” cholesterol in your blood.6

· Carrots

One cup of cooked carrots daily gives you about 30 percent (5 grams) of recommended fiber. Carrots are also good for keeping your blood glucose levels in check, and also improving your vision.

· Artichokes

Artichokes taste great, and they have a lot of fiber as well. One medium artichoke contains 10 grams. This vegetable is also loaded with potassium – even more than bananas. Potassium is important for all of your cells and muscles, but it’s especially vital to your heart health.7

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High-Fiber Staples, The Takeaway

These are just some of the vegetables that should be staples of any high-fiber diet. Others include avocados, cauliflower, spinach, Romaine lettuce, and squash. This offers plenty of variety!

But, while fiber benefits your body in many ways, you need to make sure you drink enough water. This will help fiber-rich foods move through your digestive system with ease. Also, talk to your doctor before you make any significant dietary changes, to make sure it will be safe to do so.

For more helpful health news, keep reading:

5 Ways to Improve Energy Levels (in 10 minutes or less!)

Dieting and Still Not Losing Weight? (find out why)

Sources:
1.http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
2.http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983
3.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/fiber
4.https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/guide-to-daily-fiber/too-much-fiber/
5.https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2983
6.http://www.biomedfood.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Bacchetti-2014-J-Funct-Foods.pdf
7.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/potassium

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About the Author

Dr. Amy Lee

Dr. Amy Lee has board certifications in internal medicine, physician nutrition and obesity medicine specialty. She practices internal medicine with a heavy emphasis on nutrition, wellness and weight management. Her Clinical nutrition fellowship training at UCLA has allowed her to incorporate realistic lifestyle modification in all her medicine patients.