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Eating a high-fiber diet is thought to help prevent constipation and its related problems. It may lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and help control blood sugar levels. And it may help with reaching and staying at a healthy weight.
The daily adequate intake amount for fiber has been calculated by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. Men ages 19 and older should strive for 38 grams a day and women ages 19 and older should aim for 25 grams a day.
Fiber is in many foods, including beans, peas, other vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products. You can figure out how much fiber is in a food by looking at the nutrition facts label. If a food has fiber, it will be listed under the total carbohydrate on the label. The food label assumes the daily value (DV) of fiber is 25 grams a day (g/day) for a 2,000 calorie diet.
Dietary fiber (grams)
Beans (navy, pinto, black, kidney, lima, white, great northern), cooked
100% bran cereal
Split peas, lentils, chickpeas, or cowpeas, cooked
Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
Apple with skin
Whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
Brown rice, cooked
Be sure to increase the amount of fiber in your diet slowly so that your stomach can adjust to the change. Adding too much fiber too quickly may cause stomach upset and gas.
Some doctors recommend adding bran to your diet to help boost the fiber content. If you do this, start slowly with 1 teaspoon a day. Gradually increase the amount to several teaspoons a day.
If your diet is high enough in fiber, your stools should become softer, larger, and easier to pass.
Drink enough fluids every day to help keep your stool soft. High-fiber diets need enough fluid in the body to work properly.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (2012). Nutrient data laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. Available online: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov.
Other Works Consulted
American Dietetic Association (ADA) (2008). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health implications of dietary fiber. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(10): 1716–1731. Available online: http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8355.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Also available online: http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2002/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Energy-Carbohydrate-Fiber-Fat-Fatty-Acids-Cholesterol-Protein-and-Amino-Acids.aspx.
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineRhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Current as of: August 22, 2019
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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