Other than its popular association with trips to the toilet, fiber is no joke. But unfortunately, it has been reported that fiber consumption is currently at an all-time low, with less than 3 percent of Americans meeting the recommended intake
Why do we need fiber on a daily basis?
Fiber is something the body needs but never actually digests — in fact, it remains more or less the same from plate to toilet. Skipping out on a daily dose of fiber often leads to constipation, which can make going to the bathroom painful and uncomfortable.
Eating too little fiber can make it tough to control blood sugar and appetite because fiber regulates the speed of digestion and contributes to satiety (the sensation of fullness). However, there can be too much of a good thing because overdoing it with fiber can move food through the intestines too quickly, which means fewer minerals get absorbed from food. It can also result to bloating and cramping, especially when fiber intake is dramatically increased overnight.
So, what’s the recommended amount?
The Institute of Medicine recommends that men under 50 eat about 38 grams of fiber each day and women consume 25 grams. Adults over 50 require less fiber (30 grams for dudes and 21 grams for ladies) due to decreased food consumption. To put that into perspective, a young man is supposed to eat the same amount of fiber found in 15 slices of whole-wheat bread every day.
- Avocados: Fiber content is 6.7 grams per half when eaten raw.
- Pears: Fiber content is 5.5 grams per medium fruit, raw.
- Dark-colored vegetables. In general, the darker the color of the vegetable, the higher the fiber content. Carrots, beets, and broccoli are fiber-rich. Collard greens and Swiss chard have 4 grams of fiber per cup. Spinach also packs a punch at 7 grams of fiber per half-cup. Artichokes are among the highest-fiber veggies, at 10 grams for a medium-sized one.
- Potatoes. Russet, red, and sweet potatoes all have at least 3 grams of fiber in a medium-sized spud, if you eat the skin and all.
- Carrots. One cup of chopped carrots contains 3.6 g or 14% of the RDA.
- Kale. One cup of cooked kale contains 2.6 g or 10% of the RDA.
The benefits of an efficient bowel aside from a high-fiber diet can also reduce the risk of stroke, hypertension, and heart disease. So, the next time you go food shopping, put these items in your cart.
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