The average American consumes about 17 grams of fiber each day. The recommendation is 25 grams but in countries that have less degenerative disease than we do the fiber consumption goes to 45 grams and beyond. Wow! That’s a huge difference.
There are plenty of positive things that fiber does for us. Because it is very filling when combined with water, fiber can fill us up and help us to consume fewer calories (and help us to lose weight). It can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood cholesterol, reduce the risk of many types of cancer, keep our digestive tract moving along and take unwanted toxins, hormones and other substances out of our body. That’s a pretty good list. You would think everyone would want to eat more of that stuff.
So… where do we get it? And how can we know we have eaten 45 grams of it? How much is in the food we eat? Well… you could look up every food that you eat but there is an easier way. We can put food into categories (like we do to figure calories) and use an average fiber amount for each group.
|Fruits||3 grams per piece|
|Vegetables||4 grams per 1 cup|
|Beans||7 grams per ½ cup|
|White bread||1 gram per slice|
|Whole wheat bread||2 grams per slice|
|Breakfast cereals||3 grams per cup|
|All animal products||0 grams|
Fiber is plant roughage so it is only in plants. Plants contain both soluble fiber (fiber that gets mushy – like oatmeal) and insoluble fiber (fiber that doesn’t change much – like wheat fiber). Every 14 grams of fiber that you add to your diet every day will reduce your calories by 10%. Ohhh… I like that!!
So if you have a slice of chicken and some yogurt for lunch you won’t consume any fiber. If you have some salad and vegetable bean soup with a couple of Wasa crackers you could consume 15 or so grams of fiber and you won’t be hungry for a good long time. That will quickly get you closer to your daily fiber goal. By the way, if you are not used to that much fiber… you may want to work up to it gradually.