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What is Fiber?

Fiber is a term for carbohydrates that are indigestible. Dietary fiber adds bulk to the stool and help move waste through the intestine. Fiber cannot be broken down by digestive enzymes and cannot be absorbed by the body.

Why is Fiber important?

Fiber helps aid digestion. Some types of fiber bind water, creating a softer stool that passes more rapidly through the colon. When stool passes rapidly through the digestive track, the number of diseases affecting the digestive tract are reduced.

If your diet is severely lacking in fiber, a painful condition called fecal impaction may occur.

Good Sources of Fiber

Some good sources of fiber are: cooked dried beans and peas, oat bran, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables. Be careful not to consume too many products that are processed fiber foods. These foods are often high in sugar, fat and salt.

Types of Fiber

There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers dissolve in water. Soluble fibers include: pectin, guar, carrageenan, gums, mucilage, and oat bran. Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water. Insoluble fibers include cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin.


Most laxatives used to treat constipation are concentrated sources of fiber.

Adding Fiber to Your Diet

If you suddenly add large amounts of fiber to your diet, you may experience bloating, diarrhea, and severe stomach cramping. It is best to add fiber to your diet gradually, eating small amounts of fiber rich foods. Additional fiber can be added slowly until you are consuming a healthy amount.

Examples of foods that have fiber include

Breads, cereals, and beans fiber
1/2 cup of black-eyed peas, cooked 4 grams
1/2 cup of kidney beans, cooked 5.7 grams
1/2 cup of lima beans, cooked 4.5 grams
Whole-grain cereal, cold
  • 1/2 cup of All-Bran
  • 3/4 cup of Total
  • 3/4 cup of Post Bran Flakes
9.6 grams
2.4 grams
5.3 grams
1 packet of whole-grain cereal, hot
(oatmeal, Wheatena)
3 grams
1 slice of whole-wheat or multi grain bread 1.7 grams
1 medium apple 3.3 grams
1 medium peach 1.8 grams
1/2 cup of raspberries 4 grams
1 medium tangerine 1.9 grams
1 cup of acorn squash, raw 2.1 grams
1 medium stalk of broccoli, raw 3.9 grams
5 brussels sprouts, raw 3.6 grams
1 cup of cabbage, raw 2 grams
1 medium carrot, raw 1.8 grams
1 cup of cauliflower, raw 2.5 grams
1 cup of spinach, cooked 4.3 grams
1 cup of zucchini, raw 1.4 grams

Source: USDA/ARS Nutrient Data Laborator

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