Nutritionists tell us that eating enough dietary fiber is an absolute necessity to help our bodies digest foods and keep our digestive tract on track and functioning properly.
Translation: If you don’t eat enough of this essential nutrient, you are putting yourself at risk for the highly unpleasant experience of constipation. Ugh. If avoiding constipation is not enough motivation, how about escaping hemorrhoids and higher cholesterol and blood sugar? These, too, are consequences of failing to eat your vegetables. Your mother warned you.
So, eat more fiber. Nutritionists recommend 25 grams of dietary fiber each day. Just remember to drink more water when you start on a campaign to get more fiber into your life.
Jane E. Brody of The New York Times recently wrote about a list she received as a college freshman from an astute doctor. Topping the list were foods to avoid: white rice and other refined grains, unripe bananas, tea, cheese and chocolate. The list moved on to the anti-constipation champs: beans, whole grain cereals (especially bran) and breads, vegetables, fruits (especially dried fruits) and nuts.
The physician also recommended drinking a glass of water before bed to help soften stool. Drink water also after you get up in the morning to assist your bowel.
Other high fiber foods that help curb constipation are broccoli, cabbage, berries, leafy greens, celery, squash, mushrooms, and oranges.
HealthAliciousNess, which provides great lists about the foods we should eat, offers rankings of foods that are highest in fiber. Go there for the Top Ten foods on the list and for nutrition information. Here’s the scoop.
Vegetables may be the healthiest of all foods. They are a great source of fiber. Artichokes, singled out as the vegetable with the most fiber, give you 10.3 grams in one lone artichoke. That’s 41 percent of your daily fiber needs. Other great sources of fiber from the vegetable patch are peas, lima beans, root vegetables, and leafy greens.
#1: Artichokes (Globe, cooked)
#2: Green Peas
#3: Lima Beans (Cooked)
The average cup of beans offers 14 grams of fiber or 56 percent of the daily value. The most fiber on the list comes from dry roasted soybeans weighing in with 30.4 grams and an over-the-top 122 percent of daily value per cup. They are, however, loaded with calories. If you’re looking for bang for your buck, navy beans provide 19 grams of fiber per calories in a single cooked cup. That adds up to 76 percent of daily value.
#1: Soybeans (Roasted)
#2: Navy Beans (Cooked)
#3: Small White Beans & Yellow Beans (Cooked)
Whole grains are famous for high levels of bran, which means extra fiber. Whole grains are also rich in nutrients. Bulgur, which is made from whole wheat, tops out with the most fiber 8.2 grams or 33 percent daily value per cup.
#1: Bulgur (Cooked)
#2: Whole wheat Spaghetti (Cooked)
#3: Kamut (Cooked)
Whole fresh fruits are not only tops on our list for deliciousness but also high in fiber. Passion fruit yields the most fiber with 24.5 grams or 98 percent daily value per cup. Berries are another fruit that’s a great source of fiber. Plus, berries are low in sugars and calories.
#1: Passion Fruit
Funny how nobody ever talks about the effect of eating too much fiber. Guess it’s just too difficult to encourage us all to get our daily fiber consumption up to the recommended 25 grams. But in case you go overboard, heed this: too much fiber can lead to bowel obstruction, diarrhea, or even dehydration.