Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods. The benefits of fiber include aiding in digestion, improving satiety (feeling of fullness), and improving cholesterol levels.
How Fiber Works To Lower Cholesterol
You may be wondering, "How exactly does fiber work in the body?"
"The fiber in the foods we eat -- such as that in beans, oat bran, and fruits and vegetables -- can bind to cholesterol and help transport it out of our bodies," says Lee T. Murphy, MS-MPH, RD, a media spokesperson for the Tennessee Dietetic Association and an adjunct lecturer at the University of Tennessee.
What is the Best Way to Include Fiber?
Having this information is useful, but how can you put it into practice? "To incorporate more dietary fiber in your diet, choose plant-based foods, like whole-grain cereals, fresh produce, and legumes, daily," recommends Murphy. Alternatively, if you are unable to add plant-based foods to your day, consider using a dietary fiber supplement, such as Metamucil.
How Much Fiber Should I Eat?
"Americans should aim for at least 28-35 grams of dietary fiber per day," says Murphy. These requirements vary slightly according to age, caloric intake, and medical conditions, if any.
Dietary fiber is an important, potentially cholesterol-lowering nutrient that is easy to add to your daily meals.
Personal Interview with Lee T. Murphy, 5/26/11.