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
Raspberries, raw 1 cup 8 g
Blueberries, raw 1 cup 4 g
Strawberries, raw 1 cup 3 g
Blackberries, raw 1 cup 8 g
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 4 g
Wild rice, cooked 1 cup 3 g
Popcorn, air popped 3 cups 4 g
Oats, old-fashioned, dry ½ cup 4 g
Barley, pearled, cooked 1 cup 6 g
Amaranth, grain ¼ cup 6 g
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 5 g
Whole wheat bread 1 slice 2 g
Crackers, rye wafers 1 ounce 6 g
Whole wheat cooked spaghetti 1 cup 6 g
Almonds 1 ounce 4 g
Pistachios 1 ounce 3 g
Peanuts, Walnuts 1 ounce 2 g
Hubbard squash, cooked 1 cup 7 g
Brussels sprouts, cooked 1 cup 6 g
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 5 g
Sweet and russet potatoes, skin and flesh 1 med. 4 g
Red potato, skin and flesh 1 med. 3 g
Avocado, raw ½ fruit 9 g
Raisins 2 ounces 2 g
Edamame, frozen 1 cup 6 g
Jicama, raw 1 cup 6 g
Food Serving Fiber content
Raw Oat or wheat bran 1 ounce 12 g
Fiber One Bran Cereal ½ cup 14 g
All-Bran Cereal ½ cup 10 g
Fiber-One Chewy Bars 1 bar 9 g
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 14 g
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 15 g
Garbanzo beans, cooked 1 cup 12 g
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 16 g
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 16 g
Navy beans, cooked 1 cup 19 g
White beans, cooked 1 cup 19 g
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 15 g
Peas, split, cooked 1 cup 16 g
Peas, green, frozen 1 cup 14 g
Greens, turnip, mustard, collard, cooked 1 cup 5 g
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 4 g
Cauliflower, cooked 1 cup 5 g
Acorn Squash, cooked 1 cup 9 g
Sunflower seeds ¼ cup 3 g
Pumpkin seeds ½ cup 3 g
Flaxseed 1 ounce 8 g
Orange, Apple 1 med. 4 g
Banana 1 med. 3 g
Pear 1 med. 6 g
Prunes, dried ½ cup 6 g
Figs, dried ½ cup 8 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.