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The average adult only eats 15 grams of fiber per day, yet women need 25 grams and men need 38 grams per day. Kids aren’t getting enough either.
- Toddlers age 1-3 years should get 19 grams/daily
- Children 4-8 years should get 25 grams
- Boys age 9-13 years should get 31 grams/boys age 14-18 years should get 38 grams per day
- Older girls and teens should get 26 grams of fiber a day.
Fiber is Fine!
Foods with fiber fill us up, discourage overeating, and when combined with adequate fluid intake, help move food through our digestive system. In addition to protecting our digestive systems from cancer and constipation, fiber may also lower LDL cholesterol, plus help prevent diabetes and heart disease.
In addition to a variety of beans, greens, berries and vegetables, grains are a wonderful, tasty sources of fiber. In our quest for fiber, food manufacturers can make finding the most beneficial grains a difficult quest.
Labels that read “whole grain” or “multi-grain” can be confusing. Does it mean it’s a good source of fiber?
- “Whole wheat” means that the product was made from one type of whole grain, usually un-refined wheat berries with the outer husk removed. Read the ingredients list to see if there are other added ingredients too. If the word “whole” is not listed before the grain name, then the grain was refined. Whole grain doesn’t necessarily mean high in fiber, however.
- “Multi-Grain” doesn’t mean whole grain. It often means the product was made with a variety of grain ingredients – but doesn’t mean they were whole grains. The ingredients list will give list any whole grains.
- “High fiber” is not the same as whole grain. In fact, in the U.S., a product can be officially labeled “high in fiber” if it contains 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. The fiber can come from whole grains, or from natural and added fiber
Fiber High Five
The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend at least half your grains be whole grains. And today’s markets are filled with whole grains, making it easy to meet and exceed that mark.
One simple step is to avoid refined grains by replacing them with whole grains. How? Significantly reduce – better yet, eliminate – white flour, white bread, white pasta, and white rice in your diet. These “junk foods” provide very little nutritional value, are nearly devoid of fiber, and spike blood sugar.
Make it Work
This month, Whole Grains Month, is an ideal time to incorporate whole grains into your family meals. The five with the highest fiber content per half-cup serving are:
The same amount of other common whole grains also contain fiber, but less that you may think:
- Bulgur wheat – 2.9 grams
- Barley - 2.8 grams
- Rye – 2.4 grams
- Triticale (a cross between wheat & rye) – 2.3 grams
- Wheat – 2.0 grams (1 serving is about 1.5 tablespoons of whole wheat flour)
- Spelt - 1.7 grams
- Oats – 1.7 grams
- Buckwheat (kasha) – 1.6 grams
- Millet – 1.4 grams
- Quinoa – 1.1 grams
- Amaranth – 1.1 grams
- Sorghum – 1.0 grams
- Wild rice – 1.0 grams
- Brown Rice – 0.6 grams (had you fooled, didn’t it?)
Tips on Adding More Whole Grains to Your Table
When baking, use half white/all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat flour
- Substitute quinoa, bulgur or buckwheat (kasha) for white rice as a side dish
- Buy whole-grain products like whole wheat pasta, crackers, cereals, and bread
- Mix grains into salads, meatloaf, stuffed peppers, burgers – anywhere you might use meat
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