By Charlyn Fargo
A new study finds that American adults continue to fall short of their daily fiber needs. The study looked at data from more than 14,000 adults over five years. Only 7.4% met the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation of 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed. We need anywhere from 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day, depending on our gender (men need more) and calorie intake.
The findings of the study were presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s June 2021Nutrition Live Online event.
The study also found that people with prediabetes and diabetes ate more fiber overall and among those, women with diabetes consumed more fiber than men with diabetes.
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There are lots of benefits to getting more fiber in your diet (and hitting that daily recommendation). Fiber helps you lose weight by making you feel more satisfied. Fiber acts like a sponge; it slows down digestion to help prevent blood sugar spikes. It also provides bulk, which helps promote regularity in emptying our stools. It also helps lower blood cholesterol.
So, how can you boost your fiber? Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Look on labels to see how much fiber a product contains. Look for bread with 2 to 3 grams per slice.
Top sources of fiber are beans (all kinds), peas, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, artichokes, whole wheat flour, barley, bulgur, bran, raspberries, blackberries and prunes. A cup of black beans has 10 grams of fiber; a cup of raspberries has 8 grams.
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.
Like everything else with our food choices, small steps make a big difference. Add a can of black beans to your salsa. Add a cup of raspberries to your morning oatmeal. As a side dish, think three-bean salad or add beans to your burritos, chili or soup. Choose a cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Snack on almonds, pecans and walnuts (they have more fiber than other nuts). Choose brown rice over white and whole wheat bread and pasta over white.
These seemingly small choices can add up to big benefits from additional fiber in your diet.
Q and A
Q: I’ve heard fruit is high in sugar. Should I stop eating it?
A: Fruit contains natural sugars. Because of the fiber and other vitamins and minerals in the whole fruit, the natural sugars are processed differently than added sugars are. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, June 2021, found that at least two servings of whole fruit daily may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 36%. The study analyzed the fruit and fruit juice intake of 7,675 Australians over five years and found an association between fruit intake and insulin sensitivity, suggesting more fruit (but not fruit juice) required lower insulin production to reduce blood glucose. Researchers concluded that was due to fruit’s higher fiber and nutrition content, helping slow the release of sugar into the body.
Most of us have been making our chili the same way for years. Here’s a great chili recipe — with 12 grams of fiber — to try for the fall season. It includes three different kinds of beans and several vegetables. It’s adapted from Hy-Vee.com.
THREE-BEAN AND BEEF CHILI
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large Vidalia onion, diced, divided
1 (32-ounce) carton beef broth, low sodium
1 (16-ounce) packet chili seasoning mix
1 (15-ounce) can no salt added kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can no salt added black beans, drained, rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can no salt added garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can no salt added tomato sauce
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow squash, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
In a large skillet, combine beef and 1 cup onions. Cook over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain. Return to skillet. Meanwhile, bring beef broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add chili seasoning mix and stir until powder is dissolved. Add beans, tomato sauce, vegetables, remaining onion, chili powder and beef to broth mixture. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle into bowls. Top each bowl with 1/4 cup cheese. Serves 8.
Per serving: 460 calories; 41 grams carbohydrate; 42 grams protein; 16 grams fat; 90 milligrams cholesterol; 12 grams fiber; 690 milligrams sodium.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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