Most of us know that fiber is one of those good-for-you nutrients. But you don't have to eat gravelly, tooth-breaking cereal to get it. Some of the best and most delicious foods have loads of fiber. Find out how to get your fill of fiber without sacrificing good taste — or tooth enamel!
So, what exactly is fiber? Why do you need it and what food should you eat to get it?
The term fiber refers to carbohydrates that cannot be digested. Fiber is found in the plants we eat for food — fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
Sometimes, a distinction is made between soluble fiber and insoluble fiber:
It's important to include both kinds of fiber as part of a healthy diet.
A diet that includes foods that are rich in fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and prevent diabetes and heart disease. When carbohydrates are combined with fiber, it slows the absorption of sugar and regulates insulin response. And food with fiber make us feel full, which discourages overeating.
Also, fiber itself has no calories, and adequate amounts of fiber help move food through the digestive system, promoting healthy bowel function and protecting against constipation.
Great sources of fiber include:
Look for the fiber content of foods on the nutrition labels — it's listed as part of the information given for "total carbohydrates." A high-fiber food has 5 grams or more of fiber per serving and a good source of fiber is one that provides 2.5 to 4.9 grams per serving.
Here's how some fiber-friendly foods stack up:
Most Americans are not getting enough fiber. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, teen girls (14 to 18 years) should get 25 grams of fiber per day and teen boys (14 to 18 years) should get 31 grams of fiber per day. The best sources are fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, and whole-grain foods.
You probably eat some fiber every day without even realizing it, but here are some simple ways to make sure you're getting enough.
Lunch and Dinner:
Snacks and Treats:
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: February 2011
|U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.|
|National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|Vegetarian Resource Group This site offers recipes, nutrition information, and lots more for vegetarians and anyone looking to eat less meat.|
|Food Network TV's Food Network goes online with searchable menus and recipes, an encyclopedia of cooking terms, and ideas from celebrity chefs.|
|United Soybean Board The United Soybean Board offers tips and recipes for preparing soy foods.|
|ChooseMyPlate.gov ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information on how to follow the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes resources and tools to help families lead healthier lives.|
|U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) The USDA works to enhance the quality of life for people by supporting the production of agriculture.|
|Smart Supermarket Shopping You don't need to be a scientist to figure out how to make safe, healthy food choices. Before grabbing a shopping cart and heading for the aisles, read this article to make grocery shopping a snap.|
|Vegan Food Guide A vegan doesn't consume any animal-derived foods or use animal products or byproducts, and eats only plant-based foods.|
|Your Secrets to Healthy Snacking More than 1,000 teens took our survey on healthy snacking. Here are their thoughts (and advice) on choosing healthy snacks.|
|Digestive System Most people think digestion begins when you first put food in your mouth. But the digestive process actually starts even before the food hits your taste buds.|
|Smart Snacking Healthy snacks are essential for busy teens. Find out how eating small, nutritious meals throughout the day can keep your energy level high and your mind alert.|
|Food Labels Look at any packaged food and you'll see the food label. This nutrition facts label gives the lowdown on everything from calories to cholesterol. Read more about food labels.|
|Constipation Constipation is a very common problem and it usually occurs because a person's diet doesn't include enough fluids and fiber. In most cases, there are simple changes you can make to help yourself feel better.|
|Healthy Dining Hall Eating You're away at college, and your parents are no longer looking over your shoulder to make sure you eat your vegetables. So what should you be eating, anyway?|
|Organic and Other Environmentally Friendly Foods Even the most casual food shoppers have probably noticed the increased quantity and variety of organic foods available in regular grocery stores. Are organic foods healthier? Are they safer? How do they taste?|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.