Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, is a nutrient required for proper digestion of food. It is made up for non-starchy polysaccharides like chitins, lignin, cellulose, dextrin, waxes, beta glucan and oligosaccharides. This indigestible part of the plant food moves through the digestive system, absorbing water and easing the bowel movements. Besides assisting with smooth bowel movements, fiber can also reduce the risk of heart diseases, stroke and hypertension.
A study has revealed that consuming 30 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber can reduce the risk of breast cancer. It also reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by almost 20%.
Types of Dietary Fiber:
Dietary fiber is divided into soluble and insoluble fiber. Both these fibers are present in all plant-based foods, but not in equal proportion.
- Soluble fiber, when ingested, forms a gel like consistency in the stomach and slows the digestion, preventing cholesterol and high blood glucose.
- Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in the water. It remains unchanged in the colon, making the waste heavier and softer so that it can move through the intestine easily.
Benefits of Insoluble Fiber:
- It promotes regular bowel movements, preventing constipation.
- It speeds up the elimination of toxic waste through the colon.
- It balances the pH level in the intestine, preventing the microbes from producing substances that can cause colorectal cancer.
Benefits of Soluble Fiber:
- It is beneficial in reducing cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein
- It regulates the sugar intake, helping people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Deficiency of Fiber:
- Constipation is one of the most common results of low levels of fiber in the body. This can make your trips to the bathroom extremely uncomfortable and painful.
- A deficiency in fiber can also lead to weight gain. Lack of fiber make it difficult for the body to control appetite as fiber regulates the speed of digestion and contributes to satiety, which keeps us full for longer times.
Conversely, excess levels of fiber in the body can make the food move through the intestines too quickly, making fewer minerals get absorbed from the food. This can result in issues like:
Recommended Daily Amount:
The Institute of medicine recommends specific amounts of fiber depending on the age group:
- Men under 50 – 38 grams
- Women under 50- 25 grams
- Men over 50- 30 grams
- Women over 50- 21 grams
The ratio of insoluble fiber and soluble fiber should be 75% to 25%, or 3 parts of insoluble fiber to 1 part of soluble fiber. Ideally, you should consume five servings of vegetables and fruits, with some servings of whole grain products each day.
Unfortunately, most of us fail to meet the daily-recommended amount of fiber due to irrational eating habits. The best way to increase your fiber levels is by consuming more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Here are 20 best fiber rich vegetables you can incorporate in your diet.
20 Best Fiber Rich Vegetables:
Artichoke has a unique flavor and texture, which makes it even more enjoyable. Artichokes contain more fiber per serving than most of the vegetables. A medium sized artichoke contains 10.3 grams of fiber, amounting to more than 40% of your daily value. Artichoke has more potassium levels than a banana. Besides, artichokes also have higher water content than most of the fiber rich foods. It is also a good source of sillymarin, one of the most liver friendly foods.
Peas are tasty, affordable and versatile source of fiber. A cup serving of peas boasts of 8.8 grams of fiber. It also contains a unique assortment of phytonutrients that neutralize the effect of free radical damage. You can eat the peas straight out of the pods or prepare the delicious split pea soup of it.
Broccoli is delicious green leafy vegetable renowned for its cancer fighting properties. One cup of boiled broccoli can provide you with 5.1 grams of fiber. A single serving of broccoli also provides you with 2 grams of protein, 43 milligrams of calcium and 288 milligrams of potassium. It contains indoles, a plant compound that reduces the risk of hormone related cervical and breast cancer. Broccoli, like other cruciferous vegetables, has sulfur compounds, which give them a spicy flavor. So, pair it with steamed salmon to balance the taste. Steam and sauté the broccoli until it turns bright green in color to maintain its fiber and nutrients.
4. Brussels Sprouts:
Adding a few servings of Brussels sprouts can make a lot of difference in your fiber levels. 1 cup of boiled Brussels sprouts can contribute 4.1 grams of fiber to your body. Beyond the 4.1 grams of fiber, Brussels sprouts also contain vitamin A, C, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and manganese. There are a plenty of ways to prepare Brussels sprouts to make it more palatable.
Cabbage can help you meet 12% of the daily amount of fiber. Red cabbage contains the highest amount of fiber. A cup of red cabbage provides 16% of the daily value. You can also try Chinese cabbage to up your fiber levels. Cabbage can also provide you with cholesterol lowering benefits if you cook it by steaming.
1 cup of acorn squash has around 16 grams of fiber, while winter squash contains 17 grams. Butternut squash is also a good source of fiber, with one cup providing 2% of the daily value. Squash also contains micrograms of zeaxanthin and lutein, the carotenoids that keep the eyes health and vision sharp.
Kale contains 4 grams of fiber per cup. The fiber in kale binds together with the bile acids in the gastrointestinal tract, preventing digestive disorder. Kale also has the ability to lower the risk of five types of cancer, which include breast, colon, ovary, bladder and prostate. Add some kale leaves to your soup, salads and lasagna for a punch of fiber.
Carrots are loaded with health promoting fiber. A cup of cooked carrot has around 5 grams of fiber, equaling to 28% of the daily value. A rich supply of fiber by carrots can prevent gastric ulcer and other digestive disorders. It also stabilizes the blood glucose levels. Eating carrots on a regular basis can also improve the eye health considerably. Enjoy carrot with hummus as an evening snack or add shaved carrots to the salads and noodles.
Who does not relish a corn in the cob on a cold wintery evening? Corn comes in several colors like pink, blue, yellow and black, each containing a special combination of nutrients. Corn is a moderate source of insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber acts as a brush to sweep the colon clean. It also prolongs the feeling of fullness, thereby reducing the calorie intake. A cup of corn offers around 4 grams of fiber and 170 calories. You can integrate corn in soups, salads or prepare as a side dish.
Eating a serving of cauliflower daily can contribute to your total fiber levels. 1 cup of raw cauliflower provides you with 2 grams of fiber, amounting to 8% of the daily value. In addition, it also contains vitamin C, manganese and antioxidants. The high vitamin K content in cauliflower also helps to reduce inflammation. It also keeps the blood flowing to the essential organs in the body.
Spinach is a super food with countless health benefits. The leaves are loaded with iron, calcium, vitamin A and C, antioxidants and phytochemicals. 1 cup of spinach contains 0.4 grams of fiber and just 7 calories. The high concentrations of fiber in spinach act as a natural colon cleanser, keeping you regular. You can incorporate this versatile vegetable in salad, sandwiches, soup, pasta and sauce. It will also make a nice addition to smoothies.
12. Romaine Lettuce:
Romaine lettuce is a great way to pump your fiber intake. 1 cup of shredded romaine lettuce provides 2 grams of fiber, equaling to 8% of the daily value. Besides, romaine lettuce is also a surprising source of protein. Per head of Romaine lettuce can help you meet 17% of the daily value of protein. It is also an excellent source of calcium and omega three fatty acids. One head of romaine lettuce contains 44% of the daily-recommended value of omega 3 fatty acids. Combine lettuce with cucumber, avocado, celery and high fiber vegetables to reach your daily fiber goal. You can also use Romaine lettuce in a green smoothie.
Celery is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. It is superior to corn, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes and mushrooms in terms of soluble fiber content. It consists of pectin, gum and mucilage soluble fiber. 100 grams of celery contain around 2 grams of fiber. Celery is also low in calories, with one medium stalk containing just 6 calories. Its high water content can also keep you well hydrated. You can add celery to your soups, salads and coleslaw.
14. Beet Greens:
People usually eat the beets, but discard the greens. Little do they know that the greens are loaded with vitamin A, C, folate and fiber. The greens have a unique flavor and go best with spices like onion, pepper, olive oil and garlic. You can toss the greens with other vegetables for a delicious entrée. A serving of raw beet greens contains 2 grams of fiber.
Parsnip looks like white carrots and has a unique and delicious taste. You can use it as a substitute for potato or the same way as you use a carrot. Parsnip is an excellent source of soluble fiber. The high content will keep you full, while the sweet taste will prevent irregular hunger pangs. It also lowers the cholesterol and the blood sugar levels. A nine inch long parsnip contains around 5.8 grams of fiber. You can grate parsnips into salads and pasta.
16. Green Beans:
Green bean is one of the few varieties of beans that can be eaten raw. It is picked when it is immature. Green beans are excellent for the colon healthy. They are full of fiber, with 1-cup beans, providing 15 grams of this essential nutrient. It is a great source of vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron, antioxidants and potassium as well. To retain the nutrients present in green beans, steam them just for 5 minutes. This will bring out its flavor and beautiful green color, while tenderizing them.
This delectable fruit has a bad reputation due to its high fat content. However, the fat it contains is healthy poly and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which could help lower the cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart diseases. The flesh of avocado is a good source of fiber. Just 2 tablespoons of avocado contain 2 grams of fiber and a medium sized avocado contains 11 grams. This fruit will keep you full for at least a few hours.
Pumpkin is one of the best vegetables to enjoy all year long. A cup serving of pumpkin contains 2.5 grams of fiber and 49 calories. Pumpkin is loaded with potassium, a mineral that keeps the heart healthy and bones strong. It contains around 55 milligrams per cup.
Edamame are immature soybeans in a pod. You can pop the beans in your mouth directly from the pod or prepare a tasty dip out of it. A half-cup serving of edamame contains around 9 grams of fiber, amounting to 40% of the daily value. It also contains 11 grams of protein, making it an excellent addition to vegan and vegetarian diet.
This deep purple, glossy vegetable is renowned for its unique taste and texture. Eggplant is an excellent food for the brain health. Nasunin, an anthocyanin phytonutrient found in eggplant, protects the brain cell membranes from damage. It also protects the lipids in the brain cell membrane. Eggplant is a moderate source of fiber. 1 cup of cubed eggplant provides 9.8% of the daily value of fiber. Besides, eggplant can also help you meet your daily value of vitamin B, K, folate, potassium, copper and manganese.
Remember, people increasing their fiber levels should also drink plenty of water. Fiber with adequate fluid moves easily and quickly through the digestive tract.
Have you got something to add? Any recipes of these fiber rich vegetables? Do not forget to share them with us.