Most people are not eating enough fiber for a variety of reasons, such as confusion about the right sources, lack of information about how much fiber to consume, increase in consumption of processed foods, etc. Some might even find sources of dietary fiber not tasty enough to consume. However, fiber is found in many flavorful, natural foods and can provide health benefits such as improving one's overall health and helping in the effective management of weight.
So, what is fiber and how can one consume it? Fiber is a carbohydrate that is found in plant-based food that the human body cannot break down. Fiber, also known as roughage, passes through the body without being digested, and this helps bowel movements, keeps the gut microbiome in top shape and assists in flushing out cholesterol.
There are two broad categories of fiber; soluble, which dissolves in water, and insoluble, which does not dissolve in water.
How much fiber does one need? The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 25 grams of fiber per day on a 2,000-calorie diet. The recommendations change based on sex and age. Women under the age of 50 are recommended to consume 21-25 grams of fiber daily and men in the same age group have a higher requirement of 38 grams. Meanwhile, older women over the age of 50 require 21 grams of fiber per day while older men need 30 grams.
Some good sources of fiber include whole-grain foods, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and last but not least, nuts.
Almonds are an excellent source of fiber, delivering 3.6 grams of fiber for every ounce. The fiber content in one ounce of almonds, which equates to 23 whole kernels, makes up 14 percent of the daily value. One of the most well-known tree nuts in the world, almonds are a great snack option as they are loaded with essential minerals and vitamins the human body needs.
Pistachios provide 3 grams of fiber per ounce, clocking in at 12 percent of the daily value. These bite-sized, mildly sweet nuts come in handy when consumers are in the mood for a light and nutritious snack in between meals. Tasty and fun to eat, pistachios are a great option for a smoothie, garnish for sweets and savories, or even in a homemade pesto!
Hazelnuts provide 11 percent of the recommended daily value, offering 3 grams of fiber for one ounce of the nuts. An ounce of hazelnuts equates to 21 whole kernels. Hazelnuts, which have a sweetish taste, can be consumed raw, roasted, or even as a nut butter. Hazelnuts are mostly cultivated in the United States, Spain, Italy, and Turkey, and like other nuts, are rich in essential nutrients.
Benefits of fiber
Why does one need fiber? Fiber is important as there is enough evidence to suggest that it is good for your digestive system and improves your overall health in a multitude of ways.
Aids weight loss
Fiber can help you lose weight, as it helps you feel full. This study states that the physical and chemical properties of some types of dietary fiber “aid in (the) early signal of satiation and enhanced or prolonged signals of satiety”. This feeling of fullness could reduce the intake of calories.
Reduces blood sugar spikes
Blood sugar levels tend to spike after a high-carb meal. However, consumers can mitigate that risk if they include viscous, soluble fibers in their high-carb diet that may reduce the intensity of the spikes. If consumers have a history of blood sugar problems, they should consider reducing the intake of carbs.
Prebiotic fibers feed the “good” bacteria in the human gut that may have health benefits, such as a possible reduction in obesity. While more research is required to solidify the health benefits claims, prebiotic fibers have the potential of bringing direct health benefits in a safe and inexpensive manner.
Fiber is pertinent to the overall health of the human body. Both soluble and insoluble fiber promote good gut bacteria, lower cholesterol levels, are an ally for people with blood sugar problems, and may aid in weight loss if added to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
There are many food sources of fiber, and nuts are one of the best options. They are fun, tasty, and easy to store, and require very little effort to consume.