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Fiber

Many people have trouble getting fiber in their daily diet. The goal is 20-35 grams of fiber a day. Fiber is found only in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes. Fiber is not digested and does not add calories. Making sure you have enough fiber in your diet helps lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and constipation.

Benefits of Fiber:

  • Makes you feel fuller sooner and you feel full longer
  • Slows the rise of blood sugar after eating
  • Lowers blood cholesterol
  • Prevents constipation

Two Types of Fiber:

Insoluble fiber

  • Found in bran, whole grains, some vegetables and nuts
  • Helps prevent constipation.  It increases stool volume and lets it pass easily through the intestines

Soluble fiber

  • Found in oats, beans, citrus fruits and barley
  • May help lower blood sugar and cholesterol

Increase fiber slowly.  Adding it too quickly can cause diarrhea, gas and bloating. Increase by no more than five grams a day.  Drink plenty of water and non-calorie fluids.  A high fiber diet can cause constipation if you do not get enough fluid.  

Ways to increase your fiber intake:

  • Use brown rice rather than white rice.
  • Include a bean dish at least once a week; add beans to salads.
  • Use whole grain cereals that have at least four grams of fiber per serving; combine with fresh fruit.
  • Eat whole fruit rather than drinking juice.
  • Snack on fruits, vegetables, popcorn or high fiber crackers.
  • Eat the skin on fruits and vegetables when possible.
  • Increase vegetables portions at lunch and dinner
  • With packaged foods, look for foods with at least two grams of fiber per 100 calories.
  • Use whole grain bread rather than white bread.  Whole grain should be the first item listed on the food label.  Avoid large amounts of processed grains.

Average fiber content of foods

 Fruits  Serving Size   Grams of Fiber per Serving
 Apple with skin  1 medium  3
 Figs, dried  2 medium  4
 Pear  1 medium  4
 Strawberries  1 cup  4
     
 Grains, Cereals and Pasta   Serving Size  Grams of Fiber per Serving
 Bran cereal  1/3 cup  8
 Brown rice, cooked  1/2 cup  2
 Pumpernickel bread  1 slice  3
 Whole wheat pasta  1/2 cup  3
     
 Vegetables  Serving Size  Grams of Fiber per Serving
 Broccoli  1/2 cup  2
 Brussel sprouts  1/2 cup  3
 Spinach  1/2 cup  2
     
 Legumes, Nuts and Seeds  Serving Size  Grams of Fiber per Serving 
 Baked beans, canned  1/2 cup  3
 Lentils  1/2 cup  4
 Peanuts, dry roasted  1/4 cup  3
 Sunflower seeds  1/4 cup  2

 

Reference:   The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food & Nutrition Guide, Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, CFCS, Chronimed Publishing, 1998, p. 150.

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Health and Wellness Tip

Laugh every day.  It can release endorphins, the healing hormones, and act as the body’s natural pain killer.  Rent a funny movie or call a friend that makes you laugh.  This can lower your blood pressure and boost your immune system.