The word "fiber" can often sound less than appetizing, lending itself to images of tree bark and rose petals, rather than the variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, and beans, or tasty whole grain and high-fiber products where fiber is found.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that people of all ages consume 14 grams of fiber for each 1,000 calories they consume. This means that most adult women should aim to eat more than 20 grams of fiber a day and that men should strive for more than 30 grams per day. Yet, most Americans consume about half the amount of fiber recommended by the IOM. According to the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 03-04), average intakes of dietary fiber from food range from 12.3 to 13.8 grams per day for adult women 19-50 years and 15.0 to 18.3 grams per day for adult men 19-50 years.
In the 2007 IFIC Functional Foods/Foods for Health Research consumers were asked if they were aware of certain connections between fiber and potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, or maintaining a healthy digestive system. While awareness was high at 70 percent or greater, the number of consumers who were already consuming fiber for a health benefit capped out at 57 percent or lower. The message is clear: people understand the benefits of fiber, but consumption is falling short. How can we help consumers bridge this disconnect and make fiber more appealing? The key is in focusing on the "how" rather then the "what." Since the benefits of fiber for reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer and helping to maintain a healthy digestive system and a healthy weight are known, consumers obviously need information that goes beyond the benefits and provides them with advice on how to include more fiber in their diets. Here are some simple tips for how to build a high-fiber diet:
For more information about the health benefits of fiber see: The IFIC Foundation Fact Sheet: Fiber.
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FEBRUARY 2016: Editor’s Note: Future Foods, Coming to a Plate Near You • Future of Food, Part I: Food Innovations of Tomorrow • Why You Should Check Food Labels for Potential Allergens • Super Confused About Super Foods? An Educated Consumer Is a Healthy Consumer • How Librarians Prevent the “Dunning-Kruger Effect” • Citrus: Great Fruits for Heart Health
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