Dietary fiber is the part of the plant fiber that we eat as food. If is found only in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables and grains. Fiber, such as wheat bran, helps maintain regularity. Fiber also provides a feeling of fullness and satisfaction in a meal. High fiber foods are generally low in fat. Some forms of fiber, such as oat bran and pectin, help lower blood cholesterol levels.
How much fiber do I need each day? The Adequate Intake (AI) for fiber for mean age 19-50 is 38 grams/day and for men 51 and over, the AI is 30 grams/day. The AI for women 19-50 is 25 grams/day and for women 51 and over, the AI is 21 grams/day. It is estimated that the average American consumes only 11-13 grams of fiber a day. Consuming too little fiber can lead to digestive problems such as constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, and possible colon cancer. Consuming a variety of foods will provide adequate amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Look on your boxes/cans to see how much fiber is in them (per serving). Beans and peas are good sources of fiber. One cup cooked pinto beans is 15 grams of fiber. One large apple is 5 grams of fiber. There are 4 grams of fiber in one large banana. A baked potato (with skin) is 4 grams. One fourth cup of almonds is 4 grams. Look for more fiber content of foods by typing “fiber content in foods” on an internet search engine.
What about fiber supplements? It’s best to get fiber from food rather than from supplements. Not only are foods more enjoyable to eat, but they also are packed with nutrients needed for good health, such as vitamins and minerals. Fiber supplements usually don’t have these added benefits. If you think you need a supplement, first talk to your healthcare provided.
MICROWAVE BAKED APPLES
Yield: 4 servings
4 large, baking apples
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Wash apples, and remove core. Cut in thin slice off the bottom of each apple to form a flat surface. Place apples in a microwave-safe baking dish. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small dish. Spoon mixture into center of apples. Cover with waxed paper and microwave on high for 6 to 10 minutes or until apples are soft.
Nutrition facts per serving: 220 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g tans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium, 57 g carbohydrate, 5 g dietary fiber, 49 g sugars, 1 g protein
For more informative educational information, contact the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service located at 519 South Main Street in Harlan or call 606-573-4464.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.