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4 Healthy Facts on Fiber

Author and activist Michael Pollan summed it up succinctly when he said, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  Plants are full of important vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber, which are well known compounds that support overall wellness and vitality.  But why, specifically, is fiber healthy?  And where can you get it in your eating pattern?  Today, I’m sharing 4 need-to-know facts on dietary fiber.

Fact #1: Fiber offers numerous health benefits.

Dietary fibers are the non-digestible carbohydrates that are found naturally within plant foods—and they deliver a variety of exciting health benefits!  In fact, a large body of evidence demonstrates that those who eat higher amounts of dietary fiber have a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.  Fiber may help improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and even reduce inflammation.  (1) 

Fact #2: Many people aren't getting enough fiber.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adult men get 38 grams of dietary fiber each day and that adult women get 25 grams of dietary fiber each day.  Yet, most Americans don’t get enough.  As it turns out, most men only get 18 grams of fiber per day, which just under half of what they need.  And, most adult women only get 15 grams of fiber per day, which is just over half of what they need!  (2) Clearly, we’ve got some work to do! 

Fact #3: Dietary fiber is found in plant foods. 

Dietary fiber is found in a wide variety of good-for-you plant foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.  That means that it isn’t totally necessary to reach for a special fiber product in order to get the amount you need.  Instead, choosing whole foods can be a smart strategy.  

Leafy greens deliver around 1 gram of fiber per cup, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, and cabbage) offer around 2-3 grams of fiber per cup, and berries (like strawberries and raspberries) serve up 3-8 grams of fiber per cup.  Together with whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, adding colorful vegetables and fruits at each eating occasion help you get more fiber daily.

#4: You can get more fiber, easy and deliciously. 

The next time you sit down for breakfast, grab a snack on the go or enjoy dinner with your family, look at your plate or bowl.  Is half of it filled with vegetables and fruits?  This simple strategy, recommended first in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, can be a helpful tool for visually analyzing whether or not your meals and snacks deliver fiber-rich produce.  (3) 

Each time you enjoy a meal or snack, aim for at least one serving of vegetables and fruits.  Consider adding a cup of broccoli and kale to your morning eggs, pairing your afternoon handful of almonds with a cup of strawberries, or enjoying a side salad with your homemade pizza. 


You can discover new, delicious recipes featuring ingredients that are full of fiber over on the Foxy recipe page!  I’m a big fan of the Broccoli & Grape Salad, the Celery and Pomegranate Tabbouleh, and the Veggie Poke Bowl.

Want even more tips to help you enjoy your fresh produce and get more dietary fiber?  Check out my tips to help you enjoy more cruciferous vegetables and strawberries.

What is your favorite way to enjoy more produce so that you can meet the recommended amounts for dietary fiber each day?  Send me a message on Facebook and tag my friends at Foxy to let us know what you like best!

This blog was written by Tori Schmitt, MS, RDN, LD


References:

  1. “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 115, no. 11, 2015, pp. 1861–1870., doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.09.003.
  2. “NCHS Nutrition Data” National Center for Health Statistics. March 2017. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/...
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/dietaryguid... 
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