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: September 2014
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