All About Fiber!

written by Amber Lambin, dietetic intern at Metropolitan State University

What is fiber?

Fiber is an important nutrient found in plant foods. The term “roughage” is another name for fiber. It is a complex carbohydrate that is not fully broken down by our digestive system, but provides a lot of health benefits.

Why do I need to eat fiber?

There are many reasons to get plenty of fiber in your diet. Fiber helps keep you full longer and can help promote a healthy weight, keep your blood sugar steady, lower cholesterol, and improve heart health! Eating enough fiber also helps you avoid constipation and stay regular.

How much fiber do I need to eat?

Most Americans do not get enough fiber in their diet on a regular basis. Adult men should aim to eat about 38 grams of fiber each day and women eat 25 grams per day. See the list below for an idea of how much fiber you can get from foods.

 How can I eat more fiber?

FoodPortionGrams of Fiber
Oatmeal¼ cup dry oatmeal4-5 grams
Fruit1 medium apple w/ skin on or 1 cup blackberries/raspberries4-5 grams or 8 grams
Vegetables1 cup cooked broccoli5 grams
Russet and sweet potatoes1 medium baked potato w/ skin on4-5 grams
Beans/lentils½ cup cooked beans/lentils6-9 grams
Whole grains1 cup cooked whole grain pasta5-6 grams
Nuts¼ cup almonds4 grams
Avocado½ cup sliced avocado5 grams

Choose foods with fiber at every meal and snack. These high fiber foods are great options:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables with the skin ON. Large amounts of fiber are found in the skin. Avoid peeling things like apples and potatoes.
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined/enriched grains. Highly processed bread, oatmeal and pasta has less fiber.  To ensure your food is whole grain, look at the ingredients list on the package. The first ingredient should list “whole wheat flour” or something similar using the word “whole”.
  • Check the Nutrition Facts labels too. Fiber is always listed there.

Always talk to your doctor and/or a dietitian about changes you plan to make to your diet. This is especially true if you are living with multiple illnesses, since not all foods are right for everyone. To talk to the dietitian where your meals are made, call 303.407.9439.