Benefits of Fiber: Protection Against Heart Disease, Diabetes, & More

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Filed Under: Diabetes, Heart Health, Diet, Digestive Health, Blood Sugar, General Health
Last Reviewed 03/07/2014

Benefits of Fiber

You probably know that fiber plays an integral role in healthy digestion. But are you aware that fiber and heart disease are closely related, as are fiber and weight loss? Your daily fiber intake also influences your risk of developing diabetes and a wide range of other health concerns. 

A landmark meta-analysis study, reviewing research from more than two decades, recently revealed that every 7 g of additional grams of fiber consumed daily resulted in a 9 percent reduction in heart disease.  

Fiber and weight loss also go hand in hand. Fiber-rich foods take longer to eat than foods without fiber, which allows time for satiety signals to reach your brain, enabling you to stop eating before you’re too full. That feeling of fullness stays with you longer as well, because fiber slows the rate at which food leaves your stomach. Another bonus? Fiber prevents dramatic spikes and sudden drops in blood sugar levels that leave you feeling sluggish and hungry.

The benefits of fiber also extend to diabetes prevention. In two large studies including nearly 100,000 women, those who consumed the most fiber-rich foods experienced a 21 to 28 percent decrease in risk compared to women with the lowest intake. 

If you already have diabetes, don’t despair. Increasing your fiber intake can still help. In one trial that compared a diet containing 24 or 50 grams of fiber daily, blood glucose levels were slashed by 10 percent with the high-fiber diet. This is remarkable because the drop was equal to that achieved by taking oral diabetes drugs! As an added bonus, the high-fiber diet boasted significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides—something diabetes drugs could never do.

In order to realize the many benefits of fiber, you’ll need to add the following fiber-rich foods to your daily routine. Aim for a total of 30–35 grams each day. And if you’re still coming up short, consider supplemental fiber sources, such as glucomannan, psyllium, or freshly ground flaxseed.

High-Fiber Foods Serving Size Total Fiber (grams)
Split peas, cooked 1 cup 16.3
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 15.6
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 15
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 13.2
Artichoke, cooked 1 medium 10.3
Green peas, cooked 1 cup 8.8
Raspberries 1 cup 8
Spaghetti, whole wheat, cooked 1 cup 6.3
Barley, pearled, cooked 1 cup 6
Pear, with skin 1 medium 5.5
Bran flakes 3/4 cup 5.3
Broccoli, boiled 1 cup 5.1
Apple, with skin 1 medium 4.4

Now it’s your turn: What is your favorite way to incorporate more fiber into your daily routine?

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