Get the Facts on Fiber

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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.

And 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).

Why Do We Need Fiber?

It’s hard to believe that something we can’t even digest can be so good for us! A higher-fiber diet has been shown to lower kidney beans, added to green salads = 3 grams of fiber.

  • A bean burrito at Taco Bell (or made at home) = 8 grams.
  • 4. Work in Fruits Whenever You Can

    Try to get several servings every day. Add fruit to your morning meal, enjoy it as a snack, and garnish your dinner plate with it. You can even have fruit with — or instead of — dessert!

    • 1 apple = 3.7 grams of fiber.
    • 1 banana = 2.8 grams of fiber.
    • 1 pear = 4 grams of fiber.
    • 1 cup of strawberries = 3.8 grams of fiber.

    5. Work in Veggies Whenever You Can

    Again, aim for several servings every day. Include a vegetable with lunch, have raw vegetables as an afternoon snack or pre-dinner appetizer, and enjoy a big helping with dinner. And make a point of having vegetarian entrees several times a week.

    • 1 cup of carrot slices, cooked = 5 grams of fiber.
    • 1 cup of cooked broccoli = 4.5 grams of fiber.
    • 1 cup of raw carrots = 4 grams of fiber.
    • 1 sweet potato = 4 grams of fiber.
    • 1 cup of cauliflower, cooked = 3 grams of fiber.
    • 2 cups of raw spinach leaves = 3 grams of fiber.