Soluble fiber doesn’t have a separate daily recommendation; it’s just part of your overall fiber requirement. If you’re really looking to increase your intake of soluble fiber, however, you can focus on certain foods. While the majority of high-fiber foods typically have both soluble and insoluble fiber, some foods are especially rich in soluble fiber.
Typically, women should get about 25 grams of fiber each day, although your needs may vary a bit. The exact amount of fiber required depends on how many calories you consume. If you’re not sure, you may want to track your intake for a few days to get a rough estimate. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, for every 1,000 calories you take in, you need 14 grams of total fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. So if you average 1,600 calories a day, you should aim for 22.5 grams of total dietary fiber. If you are on an 1,800-calorie diet, you should try to get 25 grams.
When You Need More
You may need a bit more fiber if you're pregnant or nursing, simply because you're eating more. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends getting 28 grams of fiber during pregnancy, then 29 grams while breast-feeding. Your specific needs might be different, depending on how many calories your doctor tells you to consume every day.
How It Works
In plants, the moist inside part of cells retains nutrients to nourish the plant. This is soluble fiber, and it acts in a similar way in your body. As soluble fiber soaks up fluid in your digestive tract, it swells, forming a thick, sludgy substance, which slows down digestion in your small intestine, helping vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, fat and glucose absorb through intestinal walls.
Insoluble fiber plays a larger role in regularity and preventing constipation than soluble fiber does, but there are other special benefits of soluble fiber. It binds with some cholesterol particles and pushes them out along with your bowel movements, thereby helping lower your overall cholesterol levels. The benefit to you is a lower risk of heart disease when you get older. Soluble fiber can even help stabilize your blood glucose since it slows digestion, which is especially important if you have diabetes, reports MayoClinic.com. And because soluble fiber sits in your gut and slows down digestion, you’ll feel full for an extended period after eating.
Foods Rich in Soluble Fiber
Oatmeal is one of the richest sources of soluble fiber -- about half of the fiber content is soluble. One-third cup of dry oatmeal has 2.7 grams of total fiber, and about half of that is soluble. You’ll get 2.5 grams of total fiber from a 1.25-cup portion of oat-based cereal; roughly half of that amount is soluble. Most veggies contain mainly insoluble fiber, but asparagus, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, each of which has 2.4 to 3.8 grams of total fiber per half cup, are just some of the veggies in which at least half of the fiber is soluble. If you’re up for fruit, opt for apricots, grapefruits, oranges, mangoes or oranges -- each provides 2.9 to 3.5 grams of total fiber. Plus, at least half of the fiber content of these foods is soluble.
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- 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
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recomm ended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Total Water and Macronutrients
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.