Fiber. We’ve all heard about it. We know it’s good for us. We also know we probably aren’t getting enough in our diet each day. But, do we know exactly what fiber does for our body and the best foods to eat to reap the benefits of fiber? I had no clue! When I started writing this post, I hoped to share a post on the relationship apples and fiber have, but I learned so much more about fiber in general that I had to share. The truth is fiber comes in many forms and enjoying more fiber-rich foods would be a benefit to us all.
Before I dive into the benefits of fiber, let’s answer the question posed in the title of this post. Yes, apples have fiber. In fact, a medium-size apple has 4.4 grams of dietary fiber, or 17 percent of your daily dietary fiber needs. That’s enough fiber for nutrition experts to agree that an apple is a high source of dietary fiber, and therefore a fiber-rich food.
To really reap the benefits of fiber in apples, you must eat the whole apple – skin (or apple peel) and all. That’s because apples are particularly high in pectin, a type of soluble fiber. While pectin is found in both the skin and the flesh of an apple, its highest concentrations reside in the skin.
There are two main types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Apples have soluble fiber, which means they attract water and will turn to gel during digestion. If you leave a food with soluble fiber in water for too long, you will see a gel-like substance form. Kind of gross to think about, except that soluble fiber is so beneficial to the body! It slows digestion down and can keep you feeling fuller, longer. It isn’t well-absorbed, so it can help lower blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. That means the soluble fiber found in apples is a great food to consider for keeping cholesterol levels in check and heart disease at bay, and to help ward off or manage diabetes. In addition to apples, pears, oats, peas, beans, blueberries, and barley are all great sources for soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber increases stool bulk and helps move materials through your digestive system. It’s a big benefit to those with irregular bowel movements, and can be found in a variety of foods, from whole wheat flour and bran, to nuts, and vegetables like cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.
Now that you know the types of fiber and the benefits of fiber offers, how much should you be taking in each day? Or in other words, how many apples do you need to eat every day? According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, daily fiber recommendations vary on gender and age. Women under the age of 50 need 25 grams each day, while women 51 or older should consume 21 grams. Men need much more fiber in their diets. Men age 50 or younger should consume 38 grams of fiber, while men age 51 and older should aim for 30 grams daily. It’s also important to enjoy water alongside fiber servings, as dietary fiber needs water to pass through your digestive system easily.
I hope you found this fiber-focused post helpful. I’d love to hear about your favorite fiber-rich meals or foods in the comments below.