The importance of fiber to health and wellness has been well-documented for decades. High fiber diets may lower the risk of colon cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes – and fiber helps normalize bowel movements and lower cholesterol. Fiber even facilitates weight loss by minimizing blood sugar spikes and helping dieters feel full and satisfied.
But, according to a survey of American adults, 95% of us aren’t getting enough. It’s worth noting that the survey was conducted by the Kellogg company – and, with a number of high fiber breakfast cereal brands, they certainly have an invested interest in the subject. Nonetheless, the numbers seem realistic and it’s no secret that most of us aren’t getting enough fiber.
Since coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, the heart-healthy benefits of fiber are of particular interest.
So just how big of an impact does fiber have in preventing coronary heart disease? Is it a 2% reduction in risk? Maybe 5%? 10%? According to Harvard researchers, high fiber intake is linked to a 40% decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease. Yes, 40%. That’s huge. Moreover, the study’s findings have been confirmed by subsequent research.
According to The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, men 50 and under should consume 38 grams of fiber per day. Men ages 51 and older should consume 30 grams. Women 50 and under should consume 25 grams of fiber per day. Women ages 51 and older should consume 21 grams.
It’s not hard to get your daily fiber requirement. Though cereal fibers were found to be particularly beneficial to heart health, fiber is also found in a number of other foods like fruit, nuts, seeds, brown rice, some whole grain products, vegetables and legumes. It’s important to read the nutrition label to find the exact fiber amounts.
For me, the research on fiber has changed the way that I eat. In addition to eating high-fiber bran cereal for my breakfast, I snack on Fiber One bars with peanut butter. Contrary to the popular belief about fiber tasting like cardboard, I find it quite delicious.
The bottom line: Getting your daily intake of fiber is crucially important to your body’s health.