Food Facts: Fiber

Dietary fiber is the latest buzz word when it comes to whole grains, yet understandably so. Many of the health benefits from whole grains stem from their high fiber content. These benefits aren’t just for the constipated or heart-diseased, fiber’s benefits are important for everyone’s health.

You may see dietary fiber on the nutrition label and know that it’s healthy for you, but what exactly is it? Dietary fiber is a carbohydrate that the body cannot digest.It is obtained by eating plant sources like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that you should have 25-38 grams of dietary fiber a day. Unfortunately, Americans only consume an average of 15 grams of fiber a day. Foods rich in dietary fiber include oatmeal, raspberries, beans, popcorn, and bran cereal.

The positive health effects of dietary fiber consumption are too beneficial to disregard. To begin, it keeps the digestive system healthy and prevents constipation. In addition, dietary fiber can lower cholesterol and control blood glucose, decreasing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Lastly, it has a high satiety value; meaning that it helps you feel fuller faster. Because of this attribute, Americans can help to stop the current obesity trend caused by overconsumption of foods, just by increasing their fiber intake!

A word of caution: increase the amount of fiber in your diet slowly and drink a lot of water, otherwise you may feel bloated or have gas. Getting the recommended dietary fiber intake is not difficult. Just concentrate on eating at least half of your grains as whole grains and you should be able to reach your goal.

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References:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

American Heart Association

Harvard School of Public Health

MayoClinic

Northwestern University Nutrition


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