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Food > More Food StoriesSpring 2009 IS Magazine

Fill Up With Fiber

More great tips and nutritional information from HMSA’s eat healthy Campaign.

By Amy C. Brown, Ph.D., R.D.

HMSA’s eat healthy Campaign was introduced in January 2008. Each issue of Island Scene has included an article on the campaign and nutrition information to help you and your family make smart eating choices. This article includes information about fiber, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables.

Got enough fiber today?

Many Americans fail to focus on this important part of their diet and consume only about 15 grams of fiber each day. The recommended daily goal is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.

Not getting enough high-fiber foods increases the chances of diverticulosis, a common condition of the large intestine where small, balloon-like pockets form outward from the intestinal wall. By age 80, more than half of us have diverticulosis. Many people have no symptoms, but others may experience abdominal pain in the lower left side of their body, bloating, and possibly mucus in their stools. Consuming enough fiber is one thing you can do to help keep your intestines functioning smoothly.

Where can you find fiber for your diet? Foods with fiber are primarily whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Meat, milk, many desserts, fats and most drinks contain very little or no fiber.

Choose whole grains

Starting out with a high-fiber cereal for breakfast will increase your fiber quotient. Check the Nutrition Facts label on packaged cereals to find those with at least 3 grams of fiber in each serving. Some cereals have 6 grams of fiber per serving, and a few even have 20 to 30 grams per serving. To increase your fiber intake even more, break tradition and have cereal for lunch or as a snack.

Whole grains are another source of fiber. Brown rice contains 2 grams of fiber in each half cup; white rice has no fiber. You can also purchase many whole grains (such as wild rice, buckwheat and quinoa) in bulk at health food stores and cook them in a similar manner to rice. The amount of water needed for cooking and cooking time will vary depending on the grain.

Breads usually have fiber if they’re made from whole grains. But their fiber content varies, so check the label. Overall, a slice of whole-grain bread averages 2 grams of fiber; a slice of white bread has half a gram. Whole-grain crackers can range from 2 to 6 grams of fiber per serving and are a crunchy way to boost your daily fiber intake.

Island Scene Online is not intended to replace the advice of health care professionals. Please consult your physician for your personal needs and before making any changes in your lifestyle.
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