on May 17, 2016, 8:36 a.m.
There are several types of fiber. Each works differently in your body and gives you distinct health benefits. You may be familiar with the terms "soluble fiber" and "insoluble fiber," but are you aware of the different things they can do for your body? Soluble fiber -- found in beans, fruits, and more -- helps you feel full. Insoluble fiber -- found in wheat bran, whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and other foods -- helps keep your digestive system regular. Fiber-rich foods are generally low in calories and fats.
Here are some ways to increase your fiber:
Jump-start your day. For breakfast choose a high-fiber cereal - 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. Opt for cereals with "bran" or "fiber" in the name.
Switch to whole grains. Look for breads that list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label and with at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta and bulgur.
Mix it up. Add pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews. Add high fiber fruit such as pears, raspberries, strawberries to salads, cereal, yogurt, salsas or as a topping for any dessert.
Get a leg up with legumes. Eat more beans, peas and lentils. Add kidney beans to canned soup or a green salad.
Eat fruit. Apples, bananas, oranges, pears and berries are good sources of fiber.
Make snacks count. Fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers are all good choices. An occasional handful of nuts are also a healthy, high-fiber snack.
Most of us get both types of fiber from foods and supplements. You can get the nutrient from fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and grains. "Functional" fiber is extracted from its natural sources, and then added to supplements or fortified foods and drinks to boost their fiber content.
Most nutritionists advise you get fiber from whole foods, because they're healthy in other ways too, but if you don't get enough from your diet (which evidence shows most of us aren't), functional fiber can help fill in the gap. Women aged 50 and younger should try to get 25 grams a day, while men should aim for 38 grams.