Fiber does way more than just keep you regular. The rough stuff can also help lower cholesterol, keep your blood sugar stable and make it easier to lose weight.
To get all those benefits, there are two types of fiber that your body needs: soluble and insoluble. Both come from plants and are forms of carbohydrates. But unlike other carbs, fiber canít be broken down and absorbed by your digestive system. Instead, as it moves through your body it slows digestion and makes your stools softer and easier to pass.
Foods rich in this type of fiber include oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples, and blueberries.
Health benefits include:
Heart protection: Inside your digestive system, soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol particles and takes them out of the body, helping to reduce overall cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal may offer the most heart protection.
Diabetes protection: Because soluble fiber isnít well absorbed, it doesn't contribute to the blood sugar spikes that can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you already have diabetes (either type 1 or type 2) soluble fiber can even help keep your condition under control.
Weight loss: Soluble fiber can also help you get to -- or stay at -- a healthy weight by keeping you feeling full without adding many calories to your diet.
Healthy bowel movements: Soluble fiber soaks up water as it passes through your system, which helps bulk up your stool and guard against constipation and diarrhea. In fact, most fiber supplements contain mostly soluble fiber.
This is found in the seeds and skins of fruit (so always eat your peels) as well as whole-wheat bread and brown rice.
The health benefits include:
Weight loss: Like soluble fiber, insoluble fiber can play a key role in controlling weight by staving off hunger pangs.
Digestive health: Eating lots of insoluble fiber also helps keeps you regular, and if you do get constipated, adding more of it to your diet can get things moving. Insoluble fiber can also improve bowel-related health problems, like constipation, hemorrhoids, and fecal incontinence (problems controlling your bowel movements.)