Dietary fiber is found in plant foods and is indigestible by humans. Fiber once ingested, passes through the small intestine and into the colon to keep it healthy. Not only do foods rich in dietary fiber help keep your digestive system healthy, they have also been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Types of Fiber
There are two types of dietary fiber:
- Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, wheat bran and vegetables. This type of fiber does not dissolve in water, so it helps to move material through the colon faster by increasing the bulk of the stool.
- Soluble fiber is found in oats, citrus fruits, apples, barley, flax seeds and beans. This type of fiber absorbs water and helps to soften stools, which makes it easier to eliminate from the body. Soluble fiber also binds to compounds in the body that contain cholesterol and thus reduces your cholesterol level.
Recommended Fiber Intake
According to the Institute of Medicine
, the recommended intake of total fiber for adults, 50 years old and younger is: 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women.