Many Americans do not get enough dietary fiber, which leads to a variety of health problems. Dietary fiber is found in fruits, beans, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts. In particular, soluble fiber protects your heart and blood vessels from damage caused by cholesterol plaques. Know how much soluble fiber you should have daily, which foods contain soluble fiber and what role, if any, soluble fiber supplements have in your nutrition plan.
Soluble fiber is found naturally in foods like oatmeal, carrots, beans and Brussels sprouts. During the process of digestion, soluble fiber forms a gel in the bowels. This gel interferes with the absorption of certain types of cholesterol and reduces the amount of harmful fats in your bloodstream. High levels of harmful cholesterol in your blood increases your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Recommended Daily Amount
Your total fiber intake each day should be 25 to 30 grams, with approximately 6 to 8 grams coming from soluble fiber sources. One-half cup of oatmeal provides 1 gram of soluble fiber. An orange provides 2 grams of soluble fiber. One-half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has 3 grams of soluble fiber. With thought and planning, you can get enough soluble fiber from your diet, but some people choose to use soluble fiber supplements.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, psyllium husk provides soluble fiber with benefits similar to that found in whole oats. Psyllium seeds provide more soluble fiber than other plant products, weighing in at 5 grams of soluble fiber per tablespoon. Psyllium fiber supplements are available over the counter.
While soluble fiber supplements can help you meet your daily fiber goal, the American Heart Association recommends that you eat fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains as your primary sources for soluble fiber. Check with your doctor before starting fiber supplements. Be sure to drink enough fluid as per package directions.