Getting enough fiber is something people don’t think about all that often. Let’s face it: Most of us haven’t a clue how many grams of fiber we’re taking in on a typical day. And guess what? We’re not even close to meeting the recommended intakes of 20-35 grams a day for healthy adults (25 daily grams for those eating 2,000 calories per day, for example, and 30 grams for 2,500 calories a day) according to the American Dietetic Association. The mean fiber intake in the U.S. is 14-15 grams a day.
We get fiber from unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans, and most Americans aren’t exactly loading their plates with these items. You’d be hard pressed to find any of them in your average fast-food value meal.
Why are we experiencing problems with fiber in America?
Americans are definitely eating more prepared and processed foods. Consumption of food prepared away from home increased from 18% of our total calories to 32% of total calories between 1977 and 1996. All this “away” food not only has more calories and fat per meal than home-prepared foods, but also less fiber (on a per-calorie basis).
How do we work towards remedying or fiber intake?
Looking to add more fiber to your diet? Fiber — along with adequate fluid intake — moves quickly and relatively easily through your digestive tract and helps it function properly. A high-fiber diet may also help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
How much should you have?
- Women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day
- Men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day
- Toddlers (1-3 years old) should get 19 grams of fiber each day
- Kids 4-8 years old should get 25 grams a day
- Older girls (9-13) and teen girls (14-18) should get 26 grams of fiber a day
- Older boys (9-13) should get 31 grams and teen boys (14-18) should get 38 grams per day
Fiber is a key component of any healthy diet, and by now we all know it does not come just from a morning bowl of cold cereal.
So what does Fiber do? There’s actually very little that fiber can’t do.
- A diet high in fiber will keep your body running smoothly for a long time, really—research shows that those who increased their intake actually live longer.
- Studies have found that fiber may aid weight loss. Shall we go on?
- Fiber also regulates digestion
- Has been shown to help moderate inflammation
- Reduces blood pressure
- Cuts your risk for diabetes
- Lowers bad cholesterol
Working towards increasing your fiber intake to benefit your overall health
- 2 week challenge to track and boost your fiber intake.
- Women should taim for at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day
- Men should aim for at least 30 to 38 grams a day
- Track your fiber intake
Great Sources of Fiber
Here’s a look at how much dietary fiber is found in some common foods. When buying packaged foods, check the Nutrition Facts label for fiber content. It can vary among brands.
Raspberries 8g – 1 cup
Berries as not normally known for their high fiber content but 1 cup of raspberries contains as much fiber as 3 slices of most whole grain breads. Their sweet flavor makes them perfect for quenching sweet cravings without blowing your diet. Raspberries also contain over half your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Raspberries are also Prebiotic fiber, which means they are excellent for your overall Metabolic health feeding the Probiotics in your gut.
Avocado 10g – 1 cup
Known for their high levels of heart healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados are also a great source of fiber. One avocado contains 9 grams of fiber, making it a perfect choice for those of you on a carbohydrate restricted diet that are looking for more fiber.
Chia Seeds 5.5g – 1 tablespoon
Yes, the same seeds from the famous or not so famous heads. Chia seeds are little nutrient packed balls full of omega-3 fats and fiber. 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds contains 5.5 grams of fiber. Add chia seeds to smoothies, use in your overnight oatmeal, add to a salad or sprinkle them on top of Greek yogurt. Chia Seeds are also Prebiotic fiber, which means they are excellent for your overall Metabolic health feeding the Probiotics in your gut.
Flaxseed Meal 2.8g – 1 tablespoon — .62g soluble fiber per 1 tablespoon
Flaxseed, like chia, are a very versatile omega-3 and fiber packed seed. Unlike chia seeds, make sure your flax is ground to ensure that your body can extract all the nutrients. In addition to a 5 grams of fiber per 2 tablespoon serving flax also contain lignans, a special antioxidant that has anti-estrogenic actions. Flaxseeds are also Prebiotic fiber, which means they are excellent for your overall Metabolic health feeding the Probiotics in your gut. Flaxseeds are also high in Soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is a type of dietary fiber that dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in your intestines. By loading up on soluble fiber, you can keep your cholesterol in check and cut your odds of developing heart disease as you age.
Oatmeal 4g – 1 cup cooked
Oats are a classic muscle building food. Steel cut oats are a less processed and more flavorful version. A quarter cup of steel cut oats contains 5 grams of fiber. Oats also contain a super fiber called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is the fiber that gives oats its cholesterol lowering effect. It is the beta-glucan in oats that will also help slow the digestion of your meal down, allowing you to feel satisfied for several hours.
Lentils 15g – 1 cup cooked
Lentils are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and they should be a staple in your diet as well. 1 cup of cooked lentils (about ¼ cup uncooked) contains 15 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber making lentils one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Time is an issue? Unlike other dry legumes, such as black or kidney beans, lentils cook up in as little as 10 minutes (red lentils cook the fastest). Lentils are also Prebiotic fiber, which means they are excellent for your overall Metabolic health feeding the Probiotics in your gut.
Broccoli 5g – 1 cup
Broccoli is a perennial superfood that also has high fiber content. 1 cup of broccoli contains 5 grams of fiber and just over 50 calories. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, which means it contains calcium D-glucarate, a compound with the capability to bind and clear excess estrogen from the body. Broccoli is also very versatile in the diet as you can enjoy it raw, steamed, sautéed, or roasted.
Cabbage 2.2g – 1 cup
Cabbage is known for its cancer fighting antioxidants such as indole-3 carbinol, but it also packs quite the fiber punch. 1 cup of cabbage contains only 5 grams of carbohydrates, half of which come from fiber. If buying a head of cabbage to cook and prepare seems a little intimidating, just opt for the pre-shredded bags of coleslaw or broccoli slaw mix. The pre-shredded bags are ready to eat and come mixed with other superfoods such as broccoli, carrots, and other cabbage variations (like red cabbage). Cabbage is also Prebiotic fiber, which means it is excellent for your overall Metabolic health feeding the Probiotics in your gut.
Apples 4.4g – 1 medium
Fiber is one of the reasons that “an apple a day will keep the doctor away,” as the saying goes. One medium-sized apple contains almost 5 grams of fiber, some of which comes from a special fiber called pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber which means that it forms a gel in your stomach causing your food to be digested and absorbed much slower. Apples are also Prebiotic fiber, which means they are excellent for your overall Metabolic health feeding the Probiotics in your gut. Apples are also high in Soluble fiber (80% of the fiber). Soluble fiber is a type of dietary fiber that dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in your intestines. By loading up on soluble fiber, you can keep your cholesterol in check and cut your odds of developing heart disease as you age.
Brussels sprouts 3.3g – 1 cup — 2g Soluble
Brussels sprouts are the food that every kid loves to hate. You should love them. Because Brussels sprouts have a similar plant origin to broccoli and cabbage, they share many of the same health promoting nutrients, including being high in fiber. 10 sprouts contain 7 grams of fiber.
Bananas 3.1g – 1 medium about 7 inches long .6 g Soluble Fiber
Bananas are a good source of many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. A green or unripe banana also contains a significant amount of resistant starch, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that functions like fiber. Fiber content: 3.1 grams in a medium-sized banana, or 2.6 grams per 100 grams.
Pears 6g – 1 medium sized 3.3g Soluble Fiber
Pears (3.1%) The pear is a popular type of fruit that is both tasty and nutritious. It’s one of the best fruit sources of fiber. Fiber content: 5.5 grams in a medium-sized pear, or 3.1 grams per 100 grams