Fiber is that part of plant food that is not digested by the enzymes in our body. The major classes of dietary fibers are:
Soluble fibers: Food rich in soluble fibers dissolve in water become sticky and stay in stomach for longer than the insoluble. These food cause slow rise in glucose level and help remove LDL (bad) cholesterol from circulatory system. Fenugreek (methi), lentils, legumes, barley, oats, flax (sunflower seeds), banana, ladies-finger, apple and other citrus fruits are a few examples of soluble fibers.
Insoluble fibers: does not dissolve in water and remain unchanged. These are also called roughage. Food rich in insoluble fibers have high water retaining capacity. They absorb water like sponge and make the bulk of fecal matter thus help relieving constipation. Whole grain products, skin of vegetables & fruits, brown rice, peas contain insoluble fibers.
Inappropriate cooking measures leading to loss of fiber:
Cereals which are rich in dietary fibers loose their fibers when processed and milled. For e.g. Whole wheat when processed to make refined flour (maida) looses all the fibers and other valuable nutrients. Similarly brown rice which undergoes many polishing to get the white rice thus makes it devoid of fibers and essential nutrients.
Raw vegetables high in fiber loose many nutrients and fibers once over cooked.
Significance of fiber in diet:
Removes LDL (bad) cholesterol from blood.
Assists in passing of food through body.
Tones-up the digestive system.
Reduce toxicity in the body by binding with the toxic chemicals and excreting it.
Help reduce diabetes and high blood pressure.
Prudent approach to healthy eating:
Use plenty of whole wheat and grains in daily meals.
Oats scores high among cereals, make it a regular diet.
Switch white rice with brown rice at least twice a week, or mix both rice for better option.
Avoid overcooking of vegetables, to retain the soluble fibers.
Vegetables especially green leafy ones are high on fibers; make use of them in salads and raitas.
Cucumber, beetroot, tomato, spinach, capsicum, pumpkin can be grated and mixed with curd for a refreshing appetizer.
Switch to all natural, as natural always mean ‘ the best’. Make dietary fiber as a decisive factor in planning your daily meal.