We hear that we need more protein, more or less carbohydrates, more or less fat, or vitamin supplements. These last years’ concerns about diet revolve around these concepts. But what about Fiber? This nutrient is essential for the prevention of hypercholesterolemia, Type 2 Diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, among others. Therefore, it deserves a central place in the discussion on a healthy diet.?

 

  WHAT IS FIBER?

It is the part of food, especially of vegetable origin, that consists of non-digestible polysaccharides and lignin, or polysaccharides other than starch and lignin. Its peculiarity is that it is not hydrolyzed by the enzymes of the human digestive tract.

This nondigestible nutrient reaches the large intestine where it softens the consistency of the stool and increases its weight. Therefore, it contributes to increasing the frequency of defecation. This can help prevent important disorders of the large intestine, such as constipation, diverticulitis and cancer.

In addition, food or dietary fiber has numerous health benefits. Among them we can highlight its cardiovascular protective effect, especially regarding soluble fiber. This is  supported by large clinical and epidemiological studies.

These studies show the beneficial effect of dietary fiber on hypercholesterolemia, Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and C-reactive protein as inflammation marker. According to these findings it is advisable to keep a diet rich in dietary fiber.

 

HOW MUCH FIBER SHOULD BE CONSUMED?

The daily recommended dose of dietary fiber is currently around 28 g/day for women and 36 g/day for men. These doses are based on the levels of fiber consumption that offer the greatest protection against cardiovascular disease as observed in clinical studies.

 

HOW CAN FIBER CONSUMPTION BE INCREASED?

The typical modern diet tends to be low in fiber as the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains is limited. According to the latest National Health Survey, only 15% of the Chilean population eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Therefore, as a primary preventive measure against cardiovascular disease, it is considered highly advisable to keep a diet rich in fiber. Increase your consumption of fruits, legumes and nuts. Substitute refined grains for whole grains and reduce daily consumption of refined flours, fried foods, pastries and sugary drinks.

Let’s go back to eating natural foods, let’s feed ourselves well and nourish our bodies with good quality food.

In the table below we can see various food’s dietary fiber content:

Name Total dietary fiber per 100 grams Dietary fiber per serving
Raw Chard 1,8 1,5
Chicory, Succory 0,8 0,6
Garlic 1,7 0,1
Artichoke 8,0 6,4
Celery 1,7 1,3
Eggplant 3,8 3,0
Beet 1,6 1,3
Broccoli 2,6 2,1
Raw onion 1,6 1,3
Mushrooms 1,3 1,0
Durvilaea Antarctica (Chilean seaweed) 6,9 5,5
Cauliflower 2,2 1,8
Endive 0,9 0,7
Asparagus 1,7 1,3
Spinach 3,3 2,7
Lettuce 1,8 1,4
Porphyra 8,8 7,0
Cucumber 1,0 0,8
Tomato 0,9 0,7
Green beans 2,6 2,1
Carrot 3,2 2,6
Blueberry 2,4 1,9
Apricot 1,9 1,5
Raspberry 6,2 5,0
Strawberry 2,6 2,1
Kiwi 3,4 2,7
Apple 2,4 1,9
Orange 2,1 1,7
Avocado 9,6 7,7
Pear 3,8 3,0
Pineapple 1,2 1,0
Banana 1,6 1,3

 

By Antonia Latorre, Nutritionist

@antolatorre