Planning a healthy diet can become complicated if you worry about meeting goals for a variety of nutrients. Instead, focusing on following a high fiber diet plan can help you improve your diet without becoming confused about too many other nutrients. Selecting unprocessed, plant-based foods can not only help you increase your fiber consumption, but also your consumption of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Know Your Goals for Fiber Consumption
Clemson University defines a high fiber diet as one that includes 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. The average American falls short of recommendations, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. A high fiber diet plan can lower your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, colorectal cancer, constipation and hemorrhoids, according to Clemson University. At each meal, include one or two servings of fruits or vegetables plus another high fiber food, such as beans or oatmeal.
Lower Cholesterol with Soluble Fiber
The two main categories of dietary fiber are soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water. A high level of LDL cholesterol or a high ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol in your blood can increase your risk for heart disease, and soluble fiber can lower your levels of LDL cholesterol while you maintain your HDL cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber can also help stabilize blood sugar levels. Flaxseed, oatmeal, oat bran, apples, oranges, strawberries, beans and asparagus provide soluble fiber.
Promote Bowel Health with Insoluble Fiber
Insoluble fiber increases fecal bulk to lower your risk for constipation. Over time, consuming adequate insoluble fiber lowers your risk of developing painful conditions such as hemorrhoids and diverticulitis, according to Clemson University. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts contain insoluble fiber. A half-cup of wheat bran supplies 11.3 grams of insoluble fiber. A half-cup of cooked turnips provides 3.1 grams of insoluble fiber, and a cup of chopped celery has 1 gram. Black-eyed peas, kidney beans and pinto beans each provide at least 4 grams of insoluble fiber per half cup, cooked.
Healthy adults should consume at least 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day and not more than 50 to 60 grams of total dietary fiber per day, according to Clemson University. Too much fiber can interfere with nutrient absorption. Increase your fiber intake gradually and chew foods thoroughly to reduce symptoms of bloating and gas as you increase your fiber consumption. Be sure that your high fiber diet plan includes plenty of water to prevent constipation.