The Benefits of Fiber: For Your Heart, Weight, and Energy - November 2016

Dietary Fiber: Insoluble vs. Soluble

By Miscellaneous

Confused about fiber? You’re not alone. Dietary fiber is a misunderstood nutrient. Many people know it is important, but not much more than that. This article fills you in on the two main types of fiber – soluble and insoluble -- where to find them, and the health benefits they provide.

<p xmlns:xalan="http://xml.apache.org/xalan">Dietary fibers are found naturally in the plants that we eat. They are parts of plant that do not break down in our stomachs, and instead pass through our system undigested. All dietary fibers are either soluble or insoluble. Both types of fiber are equally important for health, digestion, and preventing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, diverticulitis, and constipation.

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Insoluble fiber does not. To some degree these differences determine how each fiber functions in the body and benefits your health.

Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fiber delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibers can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.

  • Sources of soluble fiber: oatmeal, oat cereal, lentils, apples, oranges, pears, oat bran, strawberries, nuts, flaxseeds, beans, dried peas, blueberries, psyllium, cucumbers, celery, and carrots.

Insoluble fibers are considered gut-healthy fiber because they have a laxative effect and add bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. These fibers do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speed up the passage of food and waste through your gut. Insoluble fibers are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables.

  • Sources of insoluble fiber: whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins.

How Much Dietary Fiber Do You Need?

Most North Americans get only about 15 grams of fiber per day in their diet. But the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends about 25 grams for women under 50 and teenage girls. Teenage boys and men under 50 (who consume more calories than women) require upwards of 30-38 grams of dietary fiber daily. 

Don’t worry about what kind of fiber you are taking in unless you are seeking a specific health benefit, such as eating more soluble fiber to lower cholesterol. Instead, focus on eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. This will provide a variety of soluble and insoluble fibers and all of the health benefits.

As you increase the fiber in your diet, you may experience more intestinal gas. Increasing fiber gradually will allow your body to adapt. Because some fibers absorb water, you should also drink more water as you increase fiber.

Tips to Get More Fiber in Your Diet

Meeting dietary fiber goals can be a challenge, especially if you’re used to eating lots of processed and refined foods. Use these tips to help work more fiber in your diet:

  • Eat more whole fruit instead of fruit juice. 
  • Read labels. Look for the word "whole” before any grains on the ingredient list and check the number of grams of dietary fiber on the nutrition facts panel of packages to select high-fiber foods. 
  • Start your day with a bowl of bran or other high-fiber cereal that contains at least five grams of fiber per serving.
  • Snack on raw vegetables. 
  • Add legumes, seeds, and nuts into soups, salads, and stews. 
  • Replace refined white bread, pasta, and rice with whole-grain products. 
  • Eat a vegetarian meal at least once a week.
<p xmlns:xalan="http://xml.apache.org/xalan">Fiber supplements can also help you meet your fiber needs. But experts warn that the health benefits of supplements have not been studied as extensively as dietary fibers and may not have the same effect as fiber in foods.

<p xmlns:xalan="http://xml.apache.org/xalan">Please talk to your naturopath,nutritionist,  local health store or doctor about getting more fiber in your diet.

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 Miscellaneous
Kelowna Holistic Market

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Recipe
Tuscan Leek, Potatoe & Bean Soup
Category: Soup
Description: Welcome those crisp winter days with a pot of hearty Tuscan bean soup. Leeks are a unique combination of flavonoids and sulfur-containing nutrients, the allium vegetables belong in your diet on a regular basis. Like their allium cousins, onions and garlic, let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their health-promoting qualities.
A good source of dietary fiber, leeks also contain goodly amounts of folic acid, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. Easier to digest than standard onions, leeks have laxative, antiseptic, diuretic, and anti-arthritic properties.
Leeks contain many noteworthy flavonoid anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins that have proven health benefits.
Leeks are low in calories. 100 g fresh stalks contain 61 calories. Further, their elongated stalks provide good amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber.
Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells. Further, it also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities.
Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide (NO); thereby bring reduction in the total blood pressure. It also blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels, which helps decrease overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.
Leeks are great source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Their leafy stems indeed contain several vital vitamins such as pyridoxine, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin in healthy proportions. 100 g fresh stalks provide 64 µg of folates. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Their adequate levels in the diet during pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn babies.
In addition, leeks are one of the good source of vitamin A (1667 IU or 55% of RDA per 100 g) and other flavonoid phenolic anti-oxidants such as carotenes, xanthin, and lutein. They also have some other essential vitamins such as vitamin C, K, and vitamin E. Vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Further, its stalks have small amounts of minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium.
Often overlooked in leeks is their important concentration of the B vitamin folate. Folate is present in leeks in one of its bioactive forms (5-methyltetrahydrofolate, or 5MTHF) and it is present throughout the plant (including the full leaf portion, not only the lower leaf and bulb).
Fresh leeks should be stored unwashed and untrimmed in the refrigerator, where they will keep fresh for between one and two weeks. Wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag will help them to retain moisture.
Tips for Preparing Leeks - Cut off green tops of leeks and remove outer tough leaves. Cut off root and cut leeks in half lengthwise. Fan out the leeks and rinse well under running water, leaving them intact. Cut leeks into 2-inch lengths. Holding the leek sections cut side up, cut lengthwise so that you end up with thin strips, known as the chiffonade cut, slicing until you reach the green portion. Make sure slices are cut very thin to shorten cooking time. Let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking.
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