You know all about the health benefits of fiber—but are you getting enough of this important nutrient on your plate each day? Probably not, according to a recent study from the University of Minnesota that reveals most U.S. adults and children are still not getting enough fiber in their daily diets. In fact, while you should be getting at least 35 grams of fiber daily for optimal health, the average American consumes only about 15 grams each day, say researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Here are 3 good reasons to gobble up more high-fiber foods:
- Your Heart. Consuming more high-fiber foods is important for a healthy heart. Studies have shown that an increase in dietary fiber promotes healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels—both of which support overall heart health. In addition, fiber supports healthy blood pressure by slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates during the digestive process to ensure insulin levels rise gradually and blood pressure stays within the normal range.
- Your Tummy. Studies show a healthy balance of soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet supports healthy digestive function and elimination. The combination provides needed bulk to the diet, helping to capture toxins and waste in the intestines and “sweep” them from body via healthy bowel movements. Fiber also helps tone the bowel muscles by creating resistance and promoting peristalsis (the wave-like contractions that move food through your intestines).
- Your Waistline. Did you know fiber plays an important role in helping you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight? Fiber-rich foods promote healthy blood sugar and help you feel full longer after eating, plus fiber stimulates a powerful anti-hunger hormone in the body called cholecystokinin (CCK) to help prevent overeating. Foods high in fiber also help to “flush” unused calories from the body blocking their absorption and eliminating them via the stool. According to experts, it’s possible to flush away up to 7 calories for every gram of fiber you eat!
Consuming more non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits is the best way to increase your daily fiber intake, but if you’re still having a hard time reaching 35 grams a day, add a high-quality fiber supplement with a balanced ratio of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Flaxseed, oat fiber and acacia fiber are great options.