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Q: Why is fiber good for us and how much should we have?

Posted May 06, 2015 in Advice Column, Johnston

A: If you’re looking for a way to lose weight or reduce cholesterol, perhaps fiber should become your friend. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate; however, it doesn’t give our body energy, thus additional calories. Instead, fiber is simply eliminated. The current dietary recommendation is 25–30 grams of fiber per day – most Americans only get half this amount!

High consumption of dietary fiber has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber acts like a sponge by binding to cholesterol and removing it from the body before it’s absorbed. Fiber-rich foods may also be beneficial in controlling weight by filling you up, not out. These foods are usually low in fat and calories. Lastly, fiber may help control blood sugar levels. Those with type 2 diabetes may lower their blood sugar by increasing their fiber intake. Fiber takes longer to digest and slows the release of sugar into the blood stream. And remember, always drink plenty of water when increasing your fiber intake!

Tips to help you make fiber your friend:

  • Look for cereals containing at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Add fresh, frozen or low-sodium canned vegetables to dishes.
  • Top cereal with fresh, dried, or canned fruit.
  • Fill up on fruits and vegetables to help meet your “5-a-day.”
  • Swap 100% whole wheat tortillas for flour tortillas.


Information provided by Kari Paige, Registered Dietitian, Hy-Vee, 5750 Merle Hay Road, Johnston, (515) 270-9045.

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