The average American only gets about half the amount of fiber they need everyday for their body to function optimally. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), fiber helps lower cholesterol and is important for the health of our digestive system. Both the AHA and the National Cancer Institute recommend that we consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily.
Dietary fiber is a transparent solid complex carbohydrate that is the main part of the cell walls of plants. It has two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber may help lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Insoluble fiber provides the bulk needed for proper functioning of the stomach and intestines. It promotes healthy intestinal action and prevents constipation by moving bodily waste through the digestive tract faster, so harmful substances don’t have as much contact with the intestinal walls.
Unfortunately, many people are not eating this much fiber, which is causing serious cardio-vascular health concerns. Recently the AHA and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) confirmed that coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more people than any other disease. It causes heart attack and angina (chest pain). A blood clot that goes to the heart is considered a heart attack, but if it goes to the brain it is a stroke. The AHA ranks stoke as the third most fatal disease in America, causing paralysis and brain damage.
Eating a high-fiber diet can significantly lower our risk of heart attack, stroke and colon cancer. A 19-year follow-up study reported in the November 2001 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine indicated that increasing bean and legume intakes may be an important part of a dietary approach to preventing coronary heart disease. Beans and legumes are high in protein and soluble fiber. Another study reported in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology also suggests that increasing our consumption of fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, can significantly lower the risk of heart disease. Additionally, results from recent studies at the American Institute of Cancer Research indicate high-fiber protein-rich soy foods, such as textured soy protein (also known as T.V.P.) and Tempeh, help in preventing and treating colon cancer.
Whole beans, soybeans and other legumes are excellent sources of fiber. A 1 cup serving of cooked navy beans contains about 19 grams of fiber! Always read the Nutrition Facts label to find out the amount of, and the type of, fiber contained in any particular food. To help you achieve your daily allotment of fiber, here is a list of various foods with their fiber content.
Examples of Dietary Fiber:
1 cup cooked dry beans (navy, pinto, red, pink, black, garbanzo, etc.) = 9-19 grams of fiber
1 cup cooked Lima beans = 13 grams of fiber
1 cup cooked peas = 9 grams of fiber
1 cup raisin bran cereal = 8 grams of fiber
1 cup canned pumpkin = 7 grams of fiber
1 cup cooked spinach = 7 grams of fiber
1/2 cup whole wheat flour = 7 grams of fiber
1/2 cup soy Tempeh = 7 grams of fiber
1/2 cup soy flour = 6 grams of fiber
1/2 cup edamame (whole green soybeans) = 5 grams of fiber
1 cup cooked broccoli = 5 grams of fiber
6 Brussels sprouts = 5 grams of fiber
1 baked sweet potato = 5 grams of fiber
1 cup cooked brown rice = 4 grams of fiber
1 cup cooked old fashioned rolled oats = 4 grams of fiber
1 medium apple = 4 grams of fiber
1 medium orange = 4 grams of fiber
1 cup carrot strips = 4 grams of fiber
1/2 cup raspberries or blackberries = 4 grams of fiber
1 medium banana = 3 grams of fiber
5 dried plums (prunes) = 3 grams of fiber
1 ounce of nuts (almonds, peanuts, pistachios) = 3 grams of fiber
1 baked potato (russet) = 3 grams of fiber
1/4 cup dry roasted sunflower seeds = 3 grams of fiber
1 medium mango = 3 grams of fiber
1 medium tomato = 2 grams of fiber
1 cup pineapple juice = 2 grams of fiber
1/2 cup blueberries = 2 grams of fiber
1 cup romaine lettuce = 1.5 grams of fiber
1/2 cup tofu = 1 gram of fiber