Getting Enough Fiber - Topic Overview
Why is fiber important?
Eating a high-fiber diet is thought to help prevent constipation and its related problems. It may lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and help control blood sugar levels. And it may help with reaching and staying at a healthy weight.
What is the recommended daily amount of fiber?
The daily adequate intake amount for fiber has been calculated by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. Men ages 19 and older should strive for 38 grams a day and women ages 19 and older should aim for 25 grams a day.
Goal for daily fiber intake (grams/1,000 kcal/day)1
| Age (years)||Women (grams a day)|| Men (grams a day)|
|51 and older||21||30|
|Pregnant, age 19 and older||28|
|Breast-feeding, age 19 and older||29|
How can you get more fiber?
Fiber is in many foods, including beans, peas, other vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products. You can figure out how much fiber is in a food by looking at the nutrition facts label . If a food has fiber, it will be listed under the total carbohydrate on the label. The food label assumes the daily value (DV) of fiber is 25 grams a day (g/day) for a 2,000 calorie diet.
Grams of fiber (estimates) in certain foods2
| Food|| Serving size|| Dietary fiber (grams)|
|Beans (navy, pinto, black, kidney, lima, white, great northern), cooked||½ cup||6.2-9.6|
|100% bran cereal||½ cup||8.8|
|Split peas, lentils, chickpeas, or cowpeas, cooked||½ cup||5.6-8.1|
|Bulgur, cooked||½ cup||4.1|
|Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)||½ cup||1.75-4.0|
|Apple with skin||1 small||3.3|
|Whole wheat spaghetti, cooked||½ cup||3.1|
|Brown rice, cooked||½ cup||1.8|
Be sure to increase the amount of fiber in your diet slowly so that your stomach can adjust to the change. Adding too much fiber too quickly may cause stomach upset and gas.
Some doctors recommend adding bran to your diet to help boost the fiber content. If you do this, start slowly with 1 teaspoon a day. Gradually increase the amount to several teaspoons a day.