You’ve seen it in almost every magazine and food commercial: Get more fiber. Filling your diet with more grains like brown rice helps you get the fiber you need. Brown rice is rich in a type of fiber called insoluble fiber, which is particularly beneficial for healthy bowels. Don’t worry about getting bored with a plain old side of brown rice every night. There are plenty of ways to spruce it up for flavor, while further upping your insoluble fiber intake.
How Insoluble Fiber Works
Insoluble fiber is that rigid outer part of plant cells. It’s the material that is tough to chew and gets stuck between your teeth. Even though it’s difficult to chomp, it’s actually super helpful to your gut. Think of insoluble fiber as a push-broom. Once it hits your intestines, it strategically pushes through waste and sweeps up any particles that may be lingering on intestinal walls. The benefit for you? Regular bowel movements. You won’t have to worry about having that awful backed-up feeling, and as an added bonus, insoluble fiber makes stools soft and easy to pass. You’ll have healthy intestines, reducing your risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease, which leads to abnormal pouches and painful inflammation along intestinal walls.
Fiber in Brown Rice
You’ll get a total of about 3.3 grams of total fiber from 100 grams – about 3.5 ounces – of cooked brown rice. Of that amount, 86 percent, or nearly 2.9 grams, is insoluble. The remaining 0.4 gram of fiber is soluble – a type of fiber that slows digestion, keeping blood sugar and cholesterol levels stable.
You need 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories in your diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. If you usually try to keep your daily calories to around 1,800, you’ll need 25 grams of total fiber for the day. Both soluble and insoluble fiber are equally important, and most fibrous foods have both types, although they generally have more of one type than the other.
Getting More Fiber
If you’re particularly concerned about getting more insoluble fiber, make a batch of lentils alongside brown rice and mix them together when they’re fully cooked. A 3.5-ounce portion of cooked lentils has a total of 5.8 grams of fiber, 92 percent of which is insoluble. Add a few cubes of mango to the mixture – a perfect compliment for a broiled piece of fish. Mango offers 0.9 gram of total fiber per 1 3/4 ounces, and more than 60 percent of the fiber content is insoluble. Raisins are another insoluble-fiber-rich addition to a healthy side of brown rice. A 1.75-ounce portion of seedless raisins contains 1.5 grams of total fiber, and roughly 70 percent of the fiber in raisins is insoluble.
- Journal of Food Composition and Analysis: Individual Sugars, Soluble, and Insoluble Dietary Fiber Contents of 70 High Consumption Foods
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.