Dietary fiber is important to the human body. According to the Mayo Clinic, dietary fiber is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber helps with constipation issues, keeping a healthy weight, and decreases the chance of diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. 

There are two types of dietary fiber ­— soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is a gel form that dissolves in water and helps reduce blood cholesterol and glucose levels. People can find soluble fiber in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots and barley.

Insoluble fiber helps with the movement of waste through the digestive system. Foods with insoluble fiber are whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, cauliflower and green beans.

The Mayo Clinic states in order to get the soluble and insoluble fiber you need; it is best to eat a wide variety of high fiber foods. 

There are many benefits of fiber to the human digestive system. Those benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic, are regulating bowel movements, helps sustain bowel movements, lowers cholesterol levels, improves control of blood sugar levels, aids in achieving healthy weight and can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

By eating both insoluble and soluble fiber, you can get all the benefits of fiber. 

To incorporate fiber into your meals, it is suggested by Kerri-Ann Jennings (www.healthline.com) to eat more whole carbohydrate food sources (raw fruits and vegetables, including the peel) because they have the most fiber in them. 

Jennings also suggests including non-starchy vegetables in your meals such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms, etc. Non-starchy vegetables are high in fiber and are low calorie so you would be consuming more nutrient-dense food sources.

For a list of non-starchy vegetables, visit www.diabetes.org/nutrition/healthy-food-choices-made-easy/non-starchy-vegetables. For additional information contact your local registered dietitian.

These recipes are high in fiber:

 

Sweet Potato

Chicken Casserole 

 

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 carrots, diced

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves,  diced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken stock, divided

1/4 cup half-and-half or light cream

 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until just starting to turn golden. Mix in the sweet potatoes and carrots; cook and stir, until lightly browned.

Move vegetables to the sides of the pan, leaving the center clear. Add the chicken; cook and stir until seared on all sides. Scatter the flour over the top, and stir it in. Gradually stir in 2 cups chicken stock, mixing carefully so that no flour lumps form. Scrape any bits of food from the bottom of the pan while you do this. Pour in remaining stock, mix well.

Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with a lid. Bake 1 hour in preheated oven. Remove from the oven and allow the dish to cool before stirring in the cream.

Makes four servings.

Beef and Broccoli

Noodle Bowl 

 

One 8-ounce package penne pasta

3 cups broccoli florets

12 ounces boneless beef chuck, partially frozen

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

One 14-ounce can beef broth

1/4 cup tomato paste 

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

 

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add penne and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add broccoli; continue cooking until penne is tender, about 3 minutes more. Drain and keep warm.

Trim beef and slice into thin bite-size strips.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add beef, onion and garlic; cook and stir until onion is tender and beef is browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt and black pepper.

Return skillet to the heat. Add beef broth, tomato paste and Dijon mustard. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly, 5-8 minutes. Continue cooking 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

Divide penne and broccoli among four bowls. Spoon beef mixture on top.

Makes four servings.

 

TAYLOR GANSERT is a senior majoring in food and nutrition at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

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