Focus on Fiber

You’ve likely heard how a healthful diet includes an adequate amount of fiber, but what does this mean in terms of your day to day food choices? What is fiber? How much fiber do I need each day? What foods contain fiber?

What is fiber?

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies cannot breakdown. There are two types of fibers, soluble and insoluble. Both sources contribute to feelings of satiety, or fullness. Nutrition fact labels do not always differentiate between the two kinds of fiber so consuming a balanced variety of fiber-filled foods is important.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is the type of fiber that has been shown to help maintain healthful cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Soluble fiber sources can be prebiotics and help aide in establishing a healthy gut and assist with maintaining regularity.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water but instead attracts water into your colon; also promoting regularity.


How much fiber do I need each day?

The recommendation for generally healthful adults is to consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Any food or product that contains at least 3 grams of fiber per serving is considered a “good” source.


What foods contain fiber?

Fiber is found in plant based foods. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds are all fiber filled foods. Many products that are not plant-based can also have fiber added to them. The items below may be foods you’ve consumed before or have possibly heard of. All are good sources of fiber.


Whole Grains

Oats – 4 grams per half cup serving (uncooked)

Whole Wheat Pasta – 6 grams per one cup serving (cooked)

Quinoa – 3 grams per quarter cup serving (cooked)


Vegetables

Avocado – 7 grams per half medium avocado

Brussel Sprouts – 3 grams per one cup

Sweet Potato – 5 grams per medium sweet potato


Fruit

Raspberries – 4 grams per half cup

Pears – 4 grams per medium pear

Apple – 5 grams per medium apple


Legumes

Black Beans – 6 grams per half cup (cooked)

Edamame (soybeans) – 4 grams per half cup pods (steamed)

Chickpeas – 5 grams per half cup (cooked)


Nuts & Seeds

Almonds, raw – 4 grams per three tablespoons

Walnuts, raw – 3 grams per quarter cup

Sunflower Seeds, raw – 3 grams per quarter cup (shelled)­


While there are plenty of food sources that can provide you with your daily fiber needs, supplements can also be a helpful way to fill in those gaps on days when your fiber intake is sub-par. Choosing the right supplement for you is important. If you’re looking to maintain healthful levels of blood cholesterol, consider supplementing with a soluble fiber. If you’re looking to maintain or improve regularity, an insoluble fiber supplement may be beneficial to you.



Blog provided by: Natalie Hoefing, RD, LD

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