Banner Health Services  

Fiber in my diet


Kristine Haggarty, a registered dietitian at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa.

Question: Why is it important to include fiber in my diet?

Answer: The average American consumes approximately half the recommended amount of fiber per day. It is easier than you may think to increase the amount of fiber in your diet.

Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that is found mainly in plant products such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds. A diet with an adequate amount of fiber can help with regularity, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as help with weight management.

According to the American Dietetic Association, the recommended daily amount of fiber for women is 25 grams per day and 38 grams per day for men. If you are over the age of 50, the daily allowance of fiber decreases to 21 grams per day for women and 30 grams per day for men.

When reading food labels, choose food items that say "good source of fiber" (2.5-4.9 grams per serving) or "high in fiber" (5 grams or more per serving). The peel of a fruit or a vegetable contains fiber; therefore avoid peeling your apple or pear! Whole grains will have higher fiber content because they contain the germ, endosperm and bran layers of the grain.

Refined products will have a lower amount of fiber because the bran and germ layers of the grain has been removed during the milling process.

Need a few ideas on increasing fiber? Consume a vegetarian meal such as black beans with brown rice; add vegetables to recipes such as casseroles or pasta dishes; add fruit to cereal or yogurt; consume nuts as a snack or add them to salads; add flaxseed to cereal or baked goods.

It is important to gradually increase the fiber in your diet to prevent abdominal discomfort, bloating or gas. Also it is important to consume an adequate amount of water when increasing the fiber content in your diet. If you have intestinal problems or chronic disease, contact your physician before increasing fiber content in your diet.

Reviewed May 2010

Page Last Modified: 05/03/2010
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