Fiber is primarily known to ward off constipation. This indigestible form of carbohydrates coming from plants also helps in stabilizing blood sugar level and lowering bad cholesterol.
Did you know that there are two kinds of fiber that your body needs? One is soluble — the focus of this article — and the other is insoluble. Let us take a quick look at their primary differences:
- Soluble fiber – It absorbs water and turns into a gel-like substance that slows down the process of digestion. It helps lower cholesterol and ultimately heart disease risk. Soluble fiber prevents blood sugar spikes so it’s good for diabetics. It promotes weight loss by making you feel full, and prevents constipation.
- Insoluble fiber – It does not absorb water. Insoluble fiber is also good for your digestive health because it encourages regular movement and helps improve problems related to the bowels such as hemorrhoids and fecal incontinence. Like soluble fiber, it can promote weight loss by filling up your tummy.
Now that you know the differences between the two, it’s time to get acquainted with foods that are excellent sources of soluble fiber. Do take note that a lot of foods contain soluble and insoluble fiber at the same time. However, some of them are packed with more of the other. So here are the top food sources of soluble fiber:
When it comes to fiber, the top sources of this indigestible form of carbohydrates include bran, oatmeal, barley, bulgur, whole wheat and wheat germ. A serving of bran packs 3 grams of soluble fiber. On the other hand, a serving of oatmeal packs 4 grams of dietary fiber, and half of it is the soluble kind. Barley, bulgur and whole wheat each yields 1 gram of soluble fiber per serving.
Peanuts are the reigning champ among all nuts when it comes to soluble fiber content. That’s because a 1/4-cup serving of peanuts contains 3 grams of dietary fiber, and 1 gram of it is the soluble kind. Both almonds and Brazil nuts pack 1 gram of soluble fiber per serving. A great way to boost the soluble fiber of a bowl of oatmeal during breakfast or snack time is by sprinkling it with crushed nuts.
It’s no secret that seeds are loaded with protein, iron, magnesium and vitamin E. But did you know that they are excellent sources of soluble fiber too? For instance, a 1/3-cup serving of flax seeds yields nearly 7 grams of soluble fiber. A full serving of sesame or sunflower seeds provides you with 2.5 grams of soluble fiber.
Among all legumes on the planet, beans are the ones loaded with the most soluble fiber. Each 1/2-cup serving of lima or kidney beans contains 3 grams of soluble fiber. Consuming 1/2 cup of lentils allows you to obtain 1 gram of soluble fiber. The same amount of soluble fiber can be found in a serving of peas.
Fruits and Vegetables
So many fruits and vegetables are loaded with both soluble and insoluble fiber. Of all the fruits out there, pears pack the most soluble fiber — 3 grams of it per large piece. Other excellent fruit sources of soluble fiber include apples, berries, plums, apricots, bananas, dates, cherries, oranges, peaches, raisins and dried prunes. Vegetables that yield 1 gram of soluble fiber per serving include carrots, Brussels sprouts, squash, spinach potatoes, broccoli, zucchini and kale.