This article is based on Cooking Light to help us better understand what is a high fiber diet.
Learn to identify soluble, insoluble, and prebiotic fiber so you can access the benefits of a high fiber diet. Our in-depth guide offers sample high fiber diet plans, high fiber food (makanan berserat tinggi) recipes, and more.
Do your eating patterns reflect a high fiber diet? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 30 to 38 grams of dietary fiber each day for men and 21 to 25 grams for women. Chances are you may be falling short—in 2015, the Academy found that Americans typically eat 17 grams this link opens in a new tab per day and stressed the importance of eating more high fiber fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Everyone can benefit from eating more fiber throughout the day, whether it’s at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Jamie Vespa, MS, RD, says, “High fiber foods (makanan berserat tinggi) are excellent sources of healthful, disease-fighting nutrients and phytochemicals. Consuming these foods often can help lower your risk of heart disease, reduce systemic inflammation, and aid in weight management.”
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate found in the cell walls of all plant-based foods. While the body converts other carbohydrates such as starch into simple sugars for energy, it’s not able to fully break down the fiber. Fiber actually passes through most of your body’s digestive system undigested until it reaches the large intestine or colon. Depending on its function in the digestive system, fiber can be soluble, insoluble, or prebiotic, and is found in these categories of plant-based foods:
- Whole grains
- Nuts and Seeds
A high fiber diet packs many impressive health benefits. Eating more fiber can help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you full and reducing the chance of overeating. Adding more fiber to your diet can help lower cholesterol, which may prevent chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. High fiber foods may also reduce the risk of certain cancers and promote a healthy gut by helping waste to pass through your digestive system efficiently. Our high fiber diet guide teaches you everything you need to know about this heart-healthy way of eating, including how to identify the best sources of fiber. Our sample high fiber meal plan includes recipes for breakfasts, snacks, and more, so you can jump-start a fresh routine to better health.
What is Soluble Fiber?
When soluble fiber enters our digestive system, it dissolves in water and takes on a viscous, gelatinous form. This type of fiber is typically derived from the inner flesh of plant-based foods. In the large intestine, soluble fibers such as pectin (the same “pectin” found in jams and jellies), inulin, gum, mucilage, and beta-glucan mix with partially digested foods to help them pass more efficiently.
Health Benefits of Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber promotes a healthy heart by regulating cholesterol levels in the body and by lowering blood pressure. For example, pectin helps limit the amount of fat your body absorbs from certain foods, while beta-glucan is strongly linked to lowering bad cholesterol. Soluble fiber can also be very beneficial to those with type 2 diabetes by helping to lower and regulate blood glucose levels. A healthier blood glucose level may also lead to a reduced need for insulin in some diabetics.
Foods High in Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is often associated with the flesh or pulp of foods such as potatoes and oranges. Depending on the food, cooking can make the consistency soft and mushy—think oatmeal, baked pears, or boiled sweet potatoes.
- Whole-grain oats
- Black beans
- Sweet potatoes
What is Insoluble Fiber?
Insoluble fiber retains water once it enters the digestive system and sweeps waste through the large intestine. This type of fiber is derived from a plant’s tough, outer skin and is made up of cellulose and lignin molecules. Typically, you’ll find insoluble fiber in the skins of fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, and potatoes.
Soluble Fiber Vs. Insoluble Fiber
From apples to potatoes, every type of plant has a protective cell wall that provides shape and texture. Inside a plant’s cell wall are fiber molecules that strengthen and support growth. When the plant is eaten, these fibers enter our digestive system and become either soluble or insoluble. The main distinction between these two types of fibers is their ability to dissolve in water. While soluble fiber combines with food in the large intestine, insoluble fiber acts more like a digestive “broom.”
Health Benefits of Insoluble Fiber
Insoluble fiber prevents constipation and complications such as hemorrhoids by bulking up the stool, helping it pass more quickly through the intestines. Insoluble fiber may also help decrease the risk of colorectal cancer by speeding up waste’s movement through the digestive tract. The shorter the amount of time waste spends in your body, the less of a chance there is for harmful substances to pass through your intestinal walls into the bloodstream.
Foods High in Insoluble Fiber
Foods packed with insoluble fiber often have a tough or chewy texture—think fruit and vegetable skins, and wheat bran, the hard outer layer of cereal grains. Here are several top sources of insoluble fiber:
- Whole-wheat bread
- Wheat Bran
- Brussels sprouts
- Kidney beans
What is Prebiotic Fiber?
Some soluble fibers such as pectin, beta glucan, and inulin are prebiotic, meaning they can be fermented into energy sources for the good bacteria, or probiotics, in your large intestine. Your large intestine houses more bacteria—both good and bad—than any other part of your body. Prebiotics keep bad bacteria at bay by feeding probiotics, which contributes to a healthier microbiome and better overall health.
Health Benefits of Prebiotic Fiber
Think of your relationship with your gut as symbiotic. Eat more prebiotic fiber to help the good bacteria thrive, and they will give back by providing key health benefits. Specifically, prebiotics such as inulin produces short-chain fatty acids that help the body better absorb essential minerals—calcium, iron, and magnesium. These fatty acids may also protect against inflammation, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk for colorectal cancer. Prebiotics may also help boost overall immunity.
Foods High in Prebiotic Fiber:
- Chicory root
- Dandelion root
- Globe artichoke
- Onions and leeks
So, the next time you want to prepare a meal, you might want to pack it with a high fiber diet!