Fiber Benefits

By Charlyn Fargo

June 11, 2021 6 min read

Want to make a simple change that will help you have a healthier diet? Eat more fiber. Most of us simply aren't eating enough.

A recent five-year study presented at the American Society for Nutrition's annual conference found just 7.4% of U.S. adults met the Institute of Medicine's recommended daily intake of 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories. Fourteen grams of fiber per 1,000 calories translates to 25 to 35 grams per day.

Researchers analyzed data from 14,640 adult participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2013 to 2018. The research was led by Derek Miketinas, an assistant professor of nutrition and food sciences at Texas Woman's University in Houston.

Research showed women consumed more fiber than men, and participants with diabetes ate more fiber than those without diabetes.

But overall, we all need more. If you've had a colonoscopy, it's likely your doctor recommended more fiber — even if you got a clean report.

Here's the latest research on fiber's benefits:

— A recent study in the journal Endocrinology showed that a higher dietary fiber intake may decrease the risk for depression among pre-menopausal women.

— Adherence to a high-fiber diet may aid in mediating systemic inflammation and decrease the risk for respiratory morbidity, including asthma, according to study results published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

High fiber consumption appeared to be associated with reduced risk for breast cancer, according to the results of a meta-analysis of prospective observational studies published in Cancer.

— Ischemic stroke risk was inversely associated with the consumption of dietary fiber, fruit, vegetables and dairy foods such as milk and cheese, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal.

So what foods are high in fiber to choose more often? You can't go wrong with any fruit, vegetable or whole grain. But specific high-fiber foods (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database) include raspberries, pears, apples, green peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes (with skin), whole wheat spaghetti, barley, bran flakes, quinoa, split peas, lentils, black beans, baked beans, chia seeds, almonds and pistachios.

Q and A

Q: Is there something I can eat to have healthier skin?

A: Our skin is the body's largest organ and first line of defense. And yes, the skin needs nutrients to stay strong and healthy. No single nutrient can maintain healthy skin (despite the advertisements). Variety and eating a colorful diet are key. Think about choosing a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, such as avocadoes, carrots, tomatoes, watermelon, kiwi, leafy greens and sweet potatoes. It's also beneficial for your skin to avoid refined sugars, such as those added to items like ice cream, soda, pastries and processed foods.

RECIPE

I'm a big fan of pairing eggs and spinach together. This Spinach and Mushroom Quiche is a great way to start your morning. Make it on a Sunday, and heat the leftovers the rest of the week. It's from Eating Well magazine.

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM QUICHE

Servings: 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces sliced, fresh mixed wild mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake, button or oyster

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced sweet onion

1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic

5 ounces fresh baby spinach (8 cups), coarsely chopped

6 large eggs

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup half-and-half

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray; set aside. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; swirl to coat the pan. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, about eight minutes. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened and tender, about five minutes. Add spinach; cook, tossing constantly, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk eggs, milk, half-and-half, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Fold in the mushroom mixture and cheese. Spoon into the prepared pie pan. Bake until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes, and slice. Garnish with additional thyme, and serve.

Per serving: 277 calories; 17.1 grams protein; 6.8 grams carbohydrates; 20 grams fat (8.2 grams saturated); 220.2 milligrams cholesterol; 1.5 grams fiber; 3.2 grams sugars; 442.5 milligrams sodium.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: FotoshopTofs at Pixabay

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