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Fiber Basics. Fiber is found only in plants, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains.

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English: This image shows a display of healthy foods on a table. Foods include beans, grains, cauliflour, cantelope, pasta, bread, orange, turkey, salmon, carrots, turnips, zucchini, snowpeas, string beans, radishes, asparagus, summer squash, lean beef, tomatoes, and potatoes. AV Number: AV-8812-3430 Reuse Restrictions: None – This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source and/or author listed above. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiber Basics

Why is fiber important?
Fiber is found only in plants, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains.


  • Helps keep us “regular” and prevents constipation
  • Might help protect against certain diseases, such as:

 Heart disease

  • Seems to play a role in weight loss, probably because high-fiber foods make you feel fuller and they displace higher-calorie foods in the diet

High-fiber foods can help in the treatment of:

How much fiber do you need each day? 
For children 3−18 years old, add “5” to their age in years. So, for children 7 years old, they need at least 7+5=12 grams (g) of fiber/day.

For adults, needs vary by age and gender:

  • Men, 50 years old and younger=38 g/day
  • Men, 51 years old and older=30 g/day
  • Women, 50 years old and younger= 25 g/day
  • Women, 50 years old and older=21 g/day

What else should I know about fiber? 
Increase the amount of fiber in the diet slowly, so you do not develop a crampy, bloated stomach. Make sure to drink plenty of liquids as you increase your fiber intake. Many different forms of fiber exist, so you should eat a variety of high-fiber foods and whole-grain breads and cereals to get all of the benefits.

How can I increase the amount of fiber in my diet?
Here are some high-fiber ideas:

  • Enjoy oatmeal:

 For breakfast
 In recipes
 In homemade oatmeal raisin cookies

  • Choose whole-grain breads, pastas, and rice instead of white varieties of the same foods
  • Select high-fiber breakfast cereals—read the Nutrition Facts food labels to find cereals that have at least 5 g dietary fiber/serving
  • Serve high-fiber vegetables, such as:


  • Use more dried beans, such as:

 Black beans
 Black-eyed peas
 Pinto beans
 White beans

  • Eat more lentils
  • Include higher-fiber fruits in your diet, such as:

 Apples (with skin)

Fiber Boosters in the Diet*

Instead of… Try this…
½ C applesauce
(1.5 g fiber)
One medium apple (3 g fiber)
Three pancakes
(1.4 g fiber)
Three Aunt Jemima® Buckwheat Pancakes (5 g fiber)
One waffle
(1 g fiber)
One Eggo® Nutri-Grain® Waffle
(3 g fiber)
1 C Frosted Flakes®
(< 1 g fiber)
1 C Wheaties®
(5 g fiber)
¾ C Cap’n Crunch®
(0.8 g fiber)
¾ C Quaker® Crunchy Corn Bran
(6 g fiber)
One slice white bread
(1 g fiber)
One slice whole-wheat bread
(2−3 g fiber)
One Taco Bell® Chili Cheese Burrito
(5 g fiber)
One Taco Bell® Bean Burrito
(11 g fiber)
½ C white rice
(1 g fiber)
1 C brown rice
(2 g fiber)
½ C green beans
(2 g fiber)
½ C green peas
(4 g fiber)
One doughnut
(0 g fiber)
One bran muffin
(4 g fiber)

C=cup, g=gram

*Data obtained from a variety of sources, including Nutrition Facts food labels and US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) food databases. Numbers may vary slightly depending on source of data.

References and recommended readings
Mayo Clinic. Dietary fiber: essential for a healthy diet.
Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber/NU00033/METHOD=print.
Accessed January 27, 2011.

Medscape Today. : The Health Benefits of Fiber: Dietary Fiber Recommendations.
Available at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/540168_2.
Accessed January 27, 2011.




June 2012
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