Easy ways to obtain a high fiber diet:
- Make breakfast the opportunity to jump start your fiber. Use All Bran, Fiber One, Heart to Heart, or GoLean Crunch. Add fruit to the cereal for an additional 3-5 grams.
- Use whole fiber grains in breads, flours, cookies, pie crusts, or pasta.
- Be sure to have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Eat beans, split peas or lentils at least 1-2 times weekly.
- Substitute nuts or popcorn for snacks like potato chips or candy.
Some fibers are particularly good at bulking up your stool, while others do a better job at controlling blood glucose levels or lowering cholesterol. FOODS – fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds – should be the source of your fiber. Why? The fiber in these foods are associated with important micronutrients. Some of the health benefits and physiologic effects attributed to fiber are lost when the fiber is extracted from a food. The bulk of soluble fibers consist of hemicelluloses and pectin, although fruit and vegetables have more pectin than grains.
Rule 1 – avoid fiber supplements if your goal is health. Eat the whole food. If you simply want more fiber to eliminate constipation or to help feel full during and between meals and cannot eat the whole food, then it is acceptable. The other reason would be to add more soluble fiber to help reduce cholesterol levels.
Varietals effects – there is very little difference between different varieties of a food. An apple is an apple, an orange is an orange, and a tomato is a tomato. Only three instances of possible varietals effect were detected: plums, mushrooms, and red vs white potatoes.
Home and commercial processing effects:
- Peeling a fruit or vegetable lowers the fiber (and many nutrients) content.
- Different amounts of edible portion of a food effects final fiber count. For example, a grapefruit without any associated membrane contained much less fiber than a serving with the membrane (0.4 vs 1.4 g per serving).
- Commercial, canned and creamed corn incorporated more of the kernel than eating the corn off the cob. For this reason the commercial preparations have more fiber.
- Home cooking, use of a food processor, canning and freezing of vegetables had only modest effects on the amount of fiber.
Home vs commercial preparation: Less fiber tends to be incorporated into products made commercially. Second, larger amounts of non-fiber-containing ingredients, such as sugar and fat, were often used in commercial products.
Rule 2 – you are better off making foods from scratch than buying commercially made products. When you do cook leave the skin and edible membranes on the food for more heart healthy fiber.
Quick method to determine your total daily fiber intakes. Serving size determined from US Department of Agriculture data or food label. Serving size also noted on the detailed fiber tables referenced below at the bottom of this page.
|Servings of fruit (juice does not count)
||x 1.5 grams ......=
|Servings of vegetables
||x 1.5 grams ......=
|Servings of refined grains
||x 1.0 grams ......=
|Servings of whole grains
||x 2.5 grams ......=
|Additional foods include concentrated fiber sources, legumes, nuts and seeds using food specific fiber values in database.
|Comparison of fiber intake of three different meals. ONLY the foods containing fiber are listed. Non fiber foods such as meats, fats, sugars, etc. are not present, but do contribute to calories.
|Typical college aged man
||Typical adult male family member who eats a lunch carried from home
||Recommended fiber intake of approximately 30 g/day
2 jelly doughnuts
2 hamburger buns
1 large french fries
1 cup rice
3/4 cup green beans
1 large apple
1 cup toasted rice cereal
5 slices white bread
2 lettuce leaves
2 large sugar cookies
1 cup spaghetti
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce without meat
1 cup lettuce
1/4 cup applesauce
1 slice italian bread
1 slice yellow cake
1 shredded wheat biscuit
3 slices whole-wheat toast
4 slices white bread
2 leaves lettuce
3/4 cup peaches
1 hamburger bun
4 slices tomatoes
2 slices onion
1 cup peas
1/2 cup corn
1 slice white cake
1 cup strawberries
2 handfuls almonds
3/4 cup applesauce
|Database fiber 13.2 g/day
|Quick estimate 14.3 g/day
|This shows that the quick estimate method above is fairly accurate in determining your daily fiber intake. If you do not have a large variety of foods, then you may want to use the actual fiber values as presented in the tables.
|Database and quick methods of assessing typical dietary fiber intakes using data for 228 commonly consumed foods. Judith A. Marlett, PhD, RD; Tsui-Fun Cheung, RD Journal of the American Dietetic Association October 1997 Vol 97, #10, 1139-1151
The detailed database of 228 common foods fiber content, both soluble and insoluble is here:
I also have a smaller table with fiber content obtained from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and several cereal data supplied by the manufactures. That data is here.