Soluble fiber is a powerful nutrient you can include your diet to reduce your risk of heart disease and having a heart attack. Use the soluble fiber food chart below to make sure you are eating enough each day!
What is Fiber?
Fiber is a specific type of carbohydrate found only in plant foods. While we are not able to actually digest fiber, it works its magic as it travels through our body before it’s excreted.
The two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, are well-known for health benefits ranging from easing constipation or diarrhea, to reducing your risk of heart disease, inflammation, and diabetes (1) (2). In this article you’ll learn the difference between the two and what you can eat to reap the benefits of soluble fiber.
Soluble Fiber Vs Insoluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is made of psyllium, pectins, gums, mucilage and dissolves into a gel-like substance in our bodies. Plants higher in soluble fiber are associated with decreasing blood cholesterol and improving blood sugars.
Insoluble fiber is made of hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin and is better known as “roughage”. Insoluble fiber maintains its shape and acts almost as a broom as it travels through the digestive tract. This fiber is best known for its ability to create bulkier stool and ease constipation.
While all plants have both soluble and insoluble fibers in them, most plants are higher in one or the other.
How Much Fiber Do You Need?
The recommended dietary fiber intake is 25-35g per day (or 14g/1000 calories eaten) (3). The current eating patterns in the United States are not quite up to snuff. In the NHANES 2015-2016 What We Eat in America survey, American adults reported to eat an average of 17g per day.
While we are increasing our intake (2010 data averaged 15g per day), there is quite a bit of room for improvement. As fiber comes from plants, increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a great, healthful way to up your intake of total fiber.
When it comes to soluble fiber, aiming for 5-10 grams per day can help you see substantial changes in your heart health and risk factors like cholesterol levels(4).
Soluble Fiber Benefits
While insoluble fiber is known to have its benefits, including easing constipation and potentially reducing risk of colon cancer, soluble fiber has its own unique and wonderful qualities (5). By eating more soluble fiber, you could experience improvements in blood pressure, HDL and LDL cholesterol, weight, and blood sugars (6).
Lower your blood cholesterol levels
Soluble fiber has the ability to very effectively lower blood cholesterol levels, particularly LDL and total cholesterol (7). Soluble fiber does this by binding to cholesterol particles during the digestion process.
Once bound to the soluble fiber, the cholesterol particles are then excreted with the fiber instead of entering the blood stream and contributing to dangerous plaque formation in the blood vessels.
Stay Full Longer
Soluble fiber’s unique ability to expand after eating can help to stave off hunger pangs shortly after eating. Eating foods higher in soluble fiber creates a larger volume of food in your stomach to keep you fuller longer.
If you often reach for a sugary snack shortly after eating your meals, try increasing the soluble fiber of the meal or including a food from the soluble fiber food chart below into your snacks!
Improve Blood Sugar
Fiber is included in the carbohydrate count on the nutrition label, but is digested much differently. Soluble fiber helps to slow down the digestion of a meal. As digestion slows, the release of sugar from broken down carbohydrates into the blood stream also slows.
What Foods Contain Soluble Fiber?
Foods that are known to be higher in soluble fiber include oatmeal, beans, grains, nuts and seeds, as well as many fruits and vegetables. See the Soluble fiber food chart below for
Soluble Fiber Food Chart
Click and print this soluble fiber food chart, eating 5-10g of soluble fiber from various sources each day! Not only will it help lower cholesterol, improve blood sugars, and help keep you full for longer, it will also help you get your 5-10 fruit and vegetables servings in each day!
Recipes to get your daily dose of soluble fiber
8 Delicious Smoothies to Lower Cholesterol
Chocolate Chip Banana Baked Oatmeal