Dietary fiber is an important nutrient in our diets. Research has shown it has many health benefits such as improving glycemic (blood sugar) control, lowering cholesterol and assisting in weight management. Foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are good sources of dietary fiber.
Two types of fiber exist naturally in food; soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber are beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing. Eating a variety of plant foods will ensure you get both types of fiber in your diet.
The current recommendation for fiber intake is 25-35 grams per day. This will meet the needs of most individuals. Your dietary fiber needs are based on your total calorie needs and medical history. The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) recommend consumption of 14 grams of dietary fiber per 1,000 calories in your diet, or 25 grams for adult women and 38 grams for adult men. The average American only consumes 15 grams of fiber per day.
With the average American consuming far below the recommended intake, fortifying foods with fiber has become very popular among food manufacturers. Foods and beverages that lack fiber (ice cream, yogurt, water, juice) are now sources for fiber. Foods that may contain fiber (cereals, breads, pasta, granola bars) now have even more fiber. The dietary fiber added to these food and beverage products are called Isolated Fibers. At this time there is no supporting evidence that these added fibers provide the same health benefits as naturally occurring fiber.
To help you obtain the recommended amount of dietary fiber from natural occurring fiber food sources consider the following:
- Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts to your daily food choices.
- When reading the nutrition label the word “whole” should be listed next to the grain and be the first or second ingredient.
- “Bran” listed as an ingredient is also considered a whole grain.
The choices you make every day for meals and snacks may help you reach your goal fiber intake!