Fiber is required to promote good health, but as recently presented at the Institute of Food Technologies conference in Chicago, seeking a variety of fiber sources is best for maximum health benefits.
Research has shown that many Americans fall below targets for the recommended serving of fiber per day. It is suggested that men eat 38 grams of fiber, and women eat 25 grams. But men consume 20 grams less – about 18 grams – and women consume 10 grams less at 15 grams.
This is in line with a 2014 study revealing the decline in fiber in diet among Americans.
“The real problem is we don’t know we have a problem,” explained Julie Miller Jones, a professor at St. Catherine University.
“When you don’t know you have a problem, you don’t know how to address it. Thirty-five percent of the people in this country think we are getting enough fiber. So we really have a big job in terms of communication, in terms of telling people we aren’t getting enough fiber.”
Fiber intake is associated with healthy cholesterol, blood pressure, weight management and insulin control. Fiber is also needed within the digestive system for proper digestion. A lack of fiber, for example, can lead to constipation.
Presenters suggested consumers look for a variety of fiber sources to complement their diet and increase fiber intake. Instead of always seeking out plant-based fiber, such as the go-to prune, shoppers can look for foods packing added fiber.
“We can’t expect all fibers to have the same functions, just like we don’t expect all vitamins to have the same function,” said Jones.
Some of the items with added fiber include yogurts, cereals, breads and pasta.
Researchers said in eating a variety of sources of fiber, people will see healthy benefits.