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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)
1–31919
4–82525
9–132631
14–182638
19–502538
51 and older2130
Pregnant, age 19 and older28 
Breast-feeding, age 19 and older29 

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 camera.gif. 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 sizeDietary fiber (grams)
Beans (navy, pinto, black, kidney, lima, white, great northern), cooked½ cup6.2–9.6
100% bran cereal½ cup8.8
Split peas, lentils, chickpeas, or cowpeas, cooked½ cup5.6–8.1
Pear1 medium5.1
Bulgur, cooked½ cup4.1
Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)½ cup1.75–4.0
Almonds1 ounce3.5
Apple with skin1 small3.3
Whole wheat spaghetti, cooked½ cup3.1
Brown rice, cooked½ cup1.8

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.

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