Fiber comes from the structural portion of plants or what we might think of as the stalk. There are two major types of fiber, insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber helps keep the digestive tract healthy. Soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol and helps you to feel fuller longer.
While there’s debate about the relation of dietary fiber to colon cancer, low fiber intake is strongly linked with cardiovascular disease, hemorrhoids and Type II Diabetes.
There’s some controversy surrounding the use of artificial sweeteners as a food additive. You may have heard concerns that they contribute to birth defects and cancer, or could be linked to behavioral problems. There’s no research that indicates that this is true. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the use of artificial sweeteners and to date has not been presented with scientific information that would suggest that they’re unsafe. Some people report that artificial sweeteners cause them problems (e.g., headaches, stomach upset) and are not able to use them in place of sugar in foods.
Fiber Intake Recommendations
The recommended fiber intake for adults is 21-38 grams per day, depending on a person’s age and gender. Women should try to eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, and men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day. Currently, the average fiber intake in the U.S. is only about 15 grams per day!
Sources of Soluble Fiber
Best sources of soluble fiber include:
- oat bran
- dried beans
Good sources of insoluble fiber include:
- brown rice
- whole-wheat bread
- whole-grain cereals
- fruit and vegetable skins
Fiber is sometimes added to foods, and it’s unclear if added fiber provides the same health benefits as naturally occurring sources. Therefore, to meet the recommendation for fiber, Americans should increase their consumption of beans and peas, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other foods with naturally occurring fiber. Dietary fiber is listed under carbohydrates on the Nutrition Facts label of a product.
Fiber Content of Common Foods
Read nutrition labels to find out exactly how much fiber is in your favorite packaged foods.
|Fruits||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)*|
|Pear, with skin||1 medium||5.5|
|Apple with skin||1 medium||4.4|
|Strawberries (halves)||1 1/4 cup||3.8|
|Figs, dried||2 medium||1.6|
|Grains, cereal & pasta||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)*|
|Spaghetti, whole-wheat, cooked||1 cup||6.2|
|Barley, pearled, cooked||1 cup||6.0|
|Bran flakes||3/4 cup||5.3|
|Oat bran muffins||1 medium||5.2|
|Oatmeal, quick, regular or instant, cooked||1 cup||4.0|
|Popcorn, air-popped||3 cups||3.5|
|Brown rice, cooked||1 cup||3.5|
|Bread, whole-wheat or multigrain||1 slice||1.9|
|Legumes, nuts & seeds||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)*|
|Split peas, cooked||1 cup||16.3|
|Lentils, cooked||1 cup||15.6|
|Black beans, cooked||1 cup||15.0|
|Lima beans, cooked||1 cup||13.2|
|Baked beans, vegetarian, canned, cooked||1 cup||10.4|
|Sunflower seed kernels||1/4 cup||3.9|
|Almonds||1 ounce (23 nuts)||3.5|
|Pistachio nuts||1 ounce (49 nuts)||2.9|
|Pecans||1 ounce (19 halves)||2.7|
|Vegetables||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)*|
|Arichoke, cooked||1 medium||10.3|
|Peas, cooked||1 cup||8.8|
|Broccoli, boiled||1 cup||5.1|
|Turnip greens, boiled||1 cup||5.0|
|Sweet corn, cooked||1 cup||4.2|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||1 cup||4.1|
|Potato, with skin, baked||1 medium||2.9|
|Tomato paste||1/4 cup||2.7|
|Carrot, raw||1 medium||1.7|
Did you know? That beans are practically a perfect food?
They provide an excellent source of complex carbohydrates protein plus fiber wrapped into carbohydrate calories that are loaded with vitamins and minerals! In fact, no other food comes close to beans in providing protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and soluble fiber for just pennies a serving. A pound of dry pinto beans costs about $1.20 and makes 12-half cup servings. This is a great example of nutrient density and cost savings!