Fiber is best known for its digestive benefits, but it also plays a critical role in heart health, metabolism, and weight management. They are a basic component of a healthy diet - and yet most of us don't eat enough of them.
Fiber – what you should know
Fiber is complex carbohydrates that are mainly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grain products and legumes. The body cannot break down most fiber, so it passes through the body undigested.
There are soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber: It dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. They are found in barley, oatmeal, beans and fruit. They can help keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check. (More on that later.)
Insoluble fiber: It does not dissolve in water, at least not completely. They are found in whole grains, nuts and vegetables. Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of food through the digestive system, which is why this type of fiber is recommended for people with constipation. They also keep you full for longer, making them a practical and reliable aid in weight control.
Nutritionists recommend adults consume 30-40 grams of fiber per day. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, most of us are below this - every German eats an average of 17-21 g of fiber every day.
Part of the problem is our modern lifestyle, which prioritizes convenience over health. However, most processed foods hardly contain any fiber. Even the fruits and vegetables grown today are no longer as high in fiber as they used to be. (This is due to farming methods that produce sweeter, starchier products. They taste good, but don't contain as many nutrients as they once did).
If you want to learn more about fiber, read our questions for the Science Team in the Unicity Blog!
3 Ways Fiber Supports the Heart
The benefits of fiber speak for themselves. But why does fiber support a healthy heart?
1. Support healthy cholesterol levels
Foods containing soluble fiber are known to contribute to normal, healthy LDL cholesterol levels, provided they are consumed regularly. Fiber binds to bile acids in the digestive tract, causing them to be excreted from the body instead of being absorbed. This forces the liver to use more cholesterol to produce new bile acids, which can contribute to normal, healthy total cholesterol levels. In addition, soluble fiber can slow the absorption of cholesterol from food.
2. Support healthy blood pressure
This is where soluble fiber shines, too, because it helps reduce the absorption of sodium, which in turn can help reduce blood volume in the circulatory system. They can also slow the absorption of glucose, which in turn helps keep blood pressure under control.
3. Support weight management
There is a connection between high-fiber diets and a smaller waist circumference - in other words, less belly fat. Weight gain has been linked to increased blood pressure, cholesterol and other metabolic problems. That's why maintaining a healthy weight is so important for heart health. Foods rich in fiber also keep you full for longer and help you eat smaller portions and avoid snacks.
Tips for getting more fiber in your food
There are many foods rich in fiber - it is more difficult to eat enough of them.
The easiest and most sustainable way is to make sure you get enough fiber at every meal. Here are a few ideas:
- Enjoy your muesli with fresh berries or other fruit
- Eat an omelette with whatever vegetables are on hand: spinach, tomatoes, peppers, onions…
- Have you ever tried avocado toast?
- Choose whole grain bread for your sandwiches
- Complete your salad with cooked beans or lentils
- Leave the peel on apples, carrots and sweet potatoes - this way you get twice as much fiber!
- Always make a vegetable side dish for dinner – and eat it first
- Add beans to stews and casseroles
- Prefer whole grain rice and pasta
- Popcorn is not just good for the cinema (but choose a low-fat and low-sugar version)
- Buy fruits and nuts instead of sweets and pastries
- Dip celery stalks in hummus or nut butter
A nutritional supplement like Balance can also provide you with the fiber you need.
Fiber and your heart – friends for life
Fiber is actually a superfood. First of all, they are an important nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining heart health. Fiber-rich foods also contain many other essential nutrients that contribute to overall health. Even better, fiber comes in different forms, so even picky eaters and people on special diets can get everything they need.
It can be challenging to eat so much fiber, but remember: your heart—the literal life force that keeps you going—benefits from this effort. And your life will be all the better for it.