What does an apple, whole couscous, a cucumber and legumes have in common? This is not a festive new salad recipe. The common denominator of all these foods is that they all contain dietary fibers. Dietary fibers appear naturally in plants and, more specifically – in the protective outer skin of the seed. They are part of the carbohydrates group, but unlike ordinary carbohydrates, they are not absorbed into the human digestive system. Therefore, they add very little (if any) calories to our diet. Although they are not absorbed, they play a significant role in the digestive process. In recent years, a growing number of studies have linked the consumption of dietary fibers to reduced risk of contracting various illnesses.
The benefits of dietary fibers:
They accelerate the activity of the digestive system and therefore help promote regular bowel movements.
They create a prolonged feeling of fullness and therefore help us maintain a healthy weight.
They attenuate the absorption of sugar, thereby improving the balancing of blood sugar levels.
They reduce the absorption of dietary cholesterol into the intestinal tract, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
How much fibers do I need?
The current recommendations of the World Health Organization suggest a recommended intake of 25-35 grams a day (varies by gender and age).
In times past, when food was eaten on the same day that it was picked, our diet was much richer in dietary fibers than today. In the Stone Age, for example, people used to consume 50-100 grams of dietary fibers every day.
Today, in the era of fast food, the dietary fiber intake of the majority of the population is below the recommended quantity.
Which foods are rich in dietary fibers?
Fruit and vegetables – In addition to an abundance of vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables also contribute large quantities of dietary fibers. Vegetables are available in many forms – fresh, cooked, frozen, canned or dried. The dietary fiber content of vegetables remains intact even after processing.
It is preferable not to peel vegetables and fruit. The skin contains most of the dietary fibers.
Grains – Make sure that at least half of the grains that you consume are whole grains (whole rice, whole couscous, whole wheat pasta, whole flour bread). Whole grains are packed with dietary fibers.
Following is a sample of of values:
Cucumber, tomato and pepper salad – 2.5 grams of dietary fibers
A slice of whole flour bread – 2 grams of dietary fibers
1 cup whole wheat self-raising flour – 19.6 grams of dietary fibers
1 cup whole couscous (after cooking) – 3.7 grams of dietary fibers
1 cup whole wheat pasta (after cooking) – 5.5 grams of dietary fibers
Medium apple – 3 grams of dietary fibers