Increasing Dietary Fiber
October 13, 2004
 
Dietary specialists tell us that increasing the fiber in our diet can help prevent colon cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, but according to a University of Illinois researcher, Kelly Tappenden, Americans are not doing it.

She says that we should have 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day but we're only consuming about half that amount.

Tappenden suggests that consumers read the labels on packaged foods and pay attention to the fiber content that's listed. Look for the words "High Fiber" -- that means that the fiber content is 5 grams or more. Foods labeled "Good Source" contain 2.5 to 4.9 grams of fiber.

Since potatoes and carrots don't come with labels, Tappenden says that we just have to learn those amounts -- and some can be surprising. For instance an apple, including the skin, has 3 grams of dietary fiber, but a cup of lettuce has only one gram. So, having a salad may not be your best choice for fiber.

For more information on nutritional content in foods, visit www.nat.uiuc.edu.