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Fiber: How Much Do You Need?

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You probably know that fiber is important to good health, but do you know if you are getting enough?

Most Americans aren't. The average adult only eats 15 grams of fiber per day.

Women need 25 grams of fiber per day, and men need 38 grams per day, according to the Institute of Medicine.

Closing the Fiber Gap

Eating more plant foods -- vegetables, beans, fruit, whole grains, and nuts -- is the best way and is one of the major recommendations from the U.S. government's 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

These foods are all naturally rich in nutrients, including fiber, and provide all the health benefits that go along with a fiber-rich diet.

Top sources of fiber are: beans (all kinds), peas, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, artichokes, whole wheat flour, barley, bulgur, bran, raspberries, blackberries, and prunes.

Good sources of fiber include: lettuce, dark leafy greens, broccoli, okra, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes with the skin, corn, snap beans, asparagus, cabbage, whole wheat pasta, oats, popcorn, nuts, raisins, pears, strawberries, oranges, bananas, blueberries, mangoes, and apples.

Avoiding refined grains -- such as white flour, white bread, white pasta, and white rice -- and replacing them with whole grains is a great way to boost the amount of fiber in your diet. The Dietary Guidelines recommend at least half your grains be whole grains, but with all of the whole grain options available now, it's easy to do even better than that.

Whole foods are the preferred way to get fiber, because they also give you nutrients your body needs.

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