Ask the Dietitian: “How much fiber do I actually need?”
Fiber-rich foods you should eat more of (and why).
Welcome to our new series, Ask the Dietitian, where Pendulum Dietitian Kristin N. answers all of your burning nutrition and diet-related questions. Kristin is here to inform and empower you in all the food choices you make for yourself.
Interested in submitting a question to Kristin? Email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to answer it in an upcoming post!
Great question! First, there are two types of fiber:
- Soluble fiber: This type of fiber helps slow digestion and the rate at which carbohydrates and other nutrients are absorbed in your body. Soluble fiber can help control your blood sugar by preventing rapid rises or spikes. You can get soluble fiber from foods like oats, beans, peas, fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
- Insoluble fiber: The insoluble form of fiber helps move things through your body and provides “bulk”, helping to prevent constipation and keep you regular. You can get insoluble fiber from foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Bonus: BOTH forms of fiber make you feel full, which can prevent you from overeating!
Per the American Diabetes Association, it’s recommended that women have 25 grams of fiber per day and men consume 38 grams of fiber per day. Diets high in dietary fiber not only help regulate blood sugar, but they can also reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and promote intestinal regularity.
Any time someone increases dietary fiber, I recommend doing so slowly to help your body adjust. I also recommend increasing your intake of water to help prevent constipation.
The best way to check your fiber intake is by reading the nutrition facts label on your food or by familiarizing yourself with the fiber contained in your fave fruits and vegetables. Fiber is listed under the “carbohydrates” section on packaged food labels. In general, look for foods with more than 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Need some fiber-full suggestions? Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet:
- 1 cup of sliced avocados provides 9 grams of fiber
- 1 medium pear provides 6 grams of fiber
- 1 medium apple (with skin) provides 4 grams of fiber
- 1 cup of raspberries provides 8 grams of fiber
2. Add healthier choices to your snack arsenal:
- Raw, cut up vegetables like red and yellow peppers, broccoli florets, carrots, and cauliflower
- A Fiber One bar provides 9 grams of fiber
- A ¼ cup of pistachios provides 3 grams of fiber
- 3 cups of air-popped popcorn have 3.5 grams of fiber
3. Look for “whole” grain items that are minimally processed: whole-grain bread, pasta, cereals, and brown rice.
4. Add some beans or lentils to your soups, salads, and side dishes. Or, serve them as the main dish!
- Adding ½ cup of split peas to soup provides a whopping 25 grams of fiber