Clinical Hub,Patient Education,Health and Nutrition Facts For You,Nutrition

Digestive Health: Fiber (190)

Digestive Health: Fiber (190) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Nutrition




What is fiber?
Fiber is a part of plant foods that has many health benefits.

What does fiber do?
It depends on the type of fiber. There are two types:

ξ Insoluble fiber or “roughage,” is found in fruit and vegetable skins, whole wheat such
as whole wheat products, brown rice, barley, popcorn and quinoa, as well as in wheat
bran. This type of fiber has a laxative effect and adds bulk to stool, which helps
relieve constipation and prevent colon disease and hemorrhoids.

ξ Soluble fiber is found in most fruits and vegetables, and barley, oatmeal, oat bran, and
dried peas and beans (legumes). It attracts water and forms a gel, which slows down
digestion. This helps improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Most foods have some of both types of fiber, but in varying amounts.

Fiber can help you lose weight. The added bulk helps you feel full. Foods with fiber take longer
to chew, which helps slow the pace of eating.

Do I need to take a fiber supplement?
Eating a variety of fiber rich foods each day should provide you with enough fiber. If you
cannot eat enough fiber or you have more complex health issues, your health care provider may
recommend a fiber pill or powder. Never start a supplement without telling your health care
provider first.

How much fiber should I eat?
Your health care provider will determine your needs. For a generally healthy adult 50 years or
younger, 25 grams for females and 38 grams for males is recommended. Aim for at least 5
servings of vegetables and fruits and at least 3 servings of whole grain products each day. You
may need more or less fiber depending on your medical history.

It’s best to slowly increase the amount of fiber in your diet. This prevents stomach aches,
bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea. Fiber and water work together, so be sure to drink 8-10
(8 ounce) glasses of fluids daily.

Compare these two meal plans. Which one is most like your diet?

Menu low in fiber

Orange juice
Scrambled eggs
White toast

Tomato soup
½ tuna salad sandwich on white bread

Baked chicken with noodles
Green beans
Butterscotch pudding

Menu high in fiber

Fresh whole orange
Scrambled eggs
Oat bran muffin

Minestrone soup
½ tuna salad sandwich on 100% whole
wheat bread

Chicken/broccoli stir-fry on brown rice
Fresh fruit salad
Apple crisp

Fruits are grouped by amount of fiber per serving. The serving size is ½ cup unless noted.

At least 4 grams per serving

Pear, medium, unpeeled 5.5
Apple, large, unpeeled 5.4
Avocado, raw, cubed 5.0
Dates, 3 dried 4.8
Raspberries 4.0
3.0 – 3.9 grams fiber per serving

Blackberries 3.8
Orange, 1 medium 3.8
Prunes, 5 dried 3.5
Banana (8-3/4” long) 3.5
Raisins, packed 3.1
1.0 – 2.9 grams fiber per serving

Apricots, 4 halves 1.2
Strawberries 1.5
Peach, peeled 2.2
Cherries, sweet 1.5
Mango 1.5
Applesauce, cooked 1.5
Tangerine, 1 medium 1.5
Nectarine, 2-1/2” 1.6
Pears, 2 peeled halves 1.7
Kiwi, sliced 2.7
Under 1 gram fiber per serving

Fruit juices .2
Mandarin oranges .9
Watermelon .3
Grapefruit sections .4
Olives, 5 green or black .4
Honeydew melon .5
Grapes, green or red .5
Cantaloupe .6
Pineapple .7
Fruit cocktail, canned .9

Vegetables are grouped by the amount of fiber in a serving. A serving size is ½ cup of fresh
vegetable unless otherwise noted.

Note: Cooked vegetables often shrink so there is a greater volume in a ½ cup cooked portion
compared to a ½ cup raw portion. Therefore, a ½ cup cooked vegetables usually has more fiber
than ½ cup raw. Cooking does not decrease the fiber content of a food.

At least 4 grams fiber per serving

Lima beans 6.6
Kidney beans 5.7
Potato with skin, large 4.6
Green peas 4.4
Edamame 4.0
3.0 – 3.9 grams fiber per serving

Artichokes 3.8
Sweet potato, peeled, med 3.8
Butternut squash 3.3
Parsnip 3.2
Beets, canned 3.0

1.0- 2.9 grams fiber per serving

Broccoli 2.6
Rhubarb, cooked 2.4
Mix veg, canned 2.3
Spinach, cooked 2.2
Tomato, 2” 2.2
Carrot, 1 large 2.0
Green beans 2.0
Mushrooms, canned 1.9
Asparagus 1.8
Cauliflower, cooked 1.4
Onions, sliced 1.4
Cabbage, cooked 1.4
Spinach, 2 cups raw 1.3

Under 1 gram fiber per serving

Peppers, sliced 0.9
Radish 0.9
Potatoes, peeled 0.9
Zucchini 0.9
Celery, medium stalk 0.6
Cucumber, peeled 0.4
Mushrooms, fresh 0.4
Lettuce, ice berg 0.3

Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta
The Nutrition Facts on food labels will list fiber content.
Look for the words “100% whole-grain” to identify higher fiber food sources.

High Fiber Grains
Bran, includes oat and wheat bran
Brown rice

Foods made with whole oats
Soybean flour
Wild rice
Whole wheat flour

More Information

Processed fiber is now being added to many foods to improve the nutrition of food but also to
attract customers. Research shows naturally-occurring fiber likely has better benefits. Therefore,
a diet with more legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables is recommended.

Appearance, texture, or color does not reveal the fiber content of foods. For instance, ½ cup
avocado (which has a very smooth texture) contains 5 grams of fiber, while ½ cup of cabbage
has less than 1 gram. Food labels are a good resource for fiber content.

A food with 5 grams fiber or more per serving is considered a high fiber food choice.

Teach Back:

What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?

What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?

If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the
phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition.

Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500

Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright 1/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospital and
Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department of
Nursing. HF#190