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Adding fiber to your diet is worth the effort

By Beth Cecil
Owensboro Health HealthPark dietitian

Eat more fiber. You have likely heard this before. In fact, in the past week I have come across at least two different articles explaining the numerous health benefits of fiber.

Certainly a hot topic today, but it seems that dietary fiber first gained some popularity back in the 1970’s when Dr. Denis Burkitt, apparently nicknamed by some “the Fiber Man” or the “bran man” made "the fiber hypothesis" stating that fiber can prevent certain diseases. Now more than thirty years later, we continue to see scientific evidence that supports his theory.

Fiber certainly plays an important role in our diet. High-fiber diets have been linked to the prevention and treatment of constipation, diverticulosis and hemorrhoids. Additionally, fiber can help lower cholesterol, decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer. And by increasing fullness, it can be a great aide in weight control.

With all these benefits, it is surprising to find that Americans are falling short of the recommended goal for daily fiber intake. According to the Institute of Medicine , we average about 15 grams of fiber a day. The recommendation is actually 25 grams a day for women under 50 and 38 grams a day for men.  For those above the age of 50, women should aim for 21 grams and men 30 grams a day.

Although it may take some work, it is possible to meet these fiber recommendations. Here is a chart with the fiber content of some of the more common foods. So if you are looking to add more fiber to your diet, use this a reference, then try to add a variety of fiber rich foods to all of your meals and snacks.

Food

Serving

Fiber content

 

Food

Serving

Fiber content

Raw Oat or wheat bran

1 ounce

12 g

 

Raspberries, raw

1 cup

8 g

Fiber One Bran Cereal

½ cup

14 g

 

Blueberries, raw

1 cup

4 g

All-Bran Cereal

½ cup

10 g

 

Strawberries, raw

1 cup

3 g

Fiber-One Chewy Bars

1 bar

9 g

 

Blackberries, raw

1 cup

8 g

Lima beans, cooked

1 cup

14 g

 

Brown rice, cooked

1 cup

4 g

Black beans, cooked

1 cup

15 g

 

Wild rice, cooked

1 cup

3 g

Garbanzo beans, cooked

1 cup

12 g

 

Popcorn, air popped

3 cups

4 g

Lentils, cooked

1 cup

16 g

 

Oats, old-fashioned, dry

½ cup

4 g

Kidney beans, cooked

1 cup

16 g

 

Barley, pearled, cooked

1 cup

6 g

Navy beans, cooked

1 cup

19 g

 

Amaranth, grain

¼ cup

6 g

White beans, cooked

1 cup

19 g

 

Quinoa, cooked

1 cup

5 g

Pinto beans, cooked

1 cup

15 g

 

Whole wheat bread

1 slice

2 g

Peas, split, cooked

1 cup

16 g

 

Crackers, rye wafers

1 ounce

6 g

Peas, green, frozen

1 cup

14 g

 

Whole wheat cooked spaghetti

1 cup

6 g

Greens, turnip, mustard, collard, cooked

1 cup

5 g

 

Almonds

1 ounce

4 g

Spinach, cooked

1 cup

4 g

 

Pistachios

1 ounce

3 g

Cauliflower, cooked

1 cup

5 g

 

Peanuts, Walnuts

1 ounce

2 g

Acorn Squash, cooked

1 cup

9 g

 

Hubbard squash, cooked

1 cup

7 g

Sunflower seeds

¼ cup

3 g

 

Brussels sprouts, cooked

1 cup

6 g

Pumpkin seeds

½ cup

3 g

 

Broccoli, cooked

1 cup

5 g

Flaxseed

1 ounce

8 g

 

Sweet and russet potatoes, skin and flesh

1 med.

4 g

Orange , Apple

1 med.

4 g

 

Red potato, skin and flesh

1 med.

3 g

Banana

1 med.

3 g

 

Avocado, raw

½ fruit

9 g

Pear

1 med.

6 g

 

Raisins

2 ounces

2 g

Prunes, dried

½ cup

6 g

 

Edamame, frozen

1 cup

6 g

Figs, dried

½ cup

8 g

 

Jicama, raw

1 cup

6 g

And if you are looking for a major fiber punch, try a one cup serving of Adzuki, cranberry, French beans, Mung or yellow beans, each of which contain 15-20 grams of fiber a serving.

Read other articles by Beth

Meet Our Dietitian

At Owensboro Health, you’ll get nutrition counseling from a registered nutritionist — an expert in medical nutrition therapy. Beth Cecil, RDN, LD (right), is certified in food allergy management and is a Lifestyle Coach for the Diabetes Prevention Program. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Management, so you can trust her to care for your or your loved one’s specialized needs.