Why You Need More Fiber

High-fiber foods boost health and help control your weight

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Most of us haven't a clue how many grams of fiber we get from our diets in on a typical day. Yet for many Americans, this number should be doubled.

A recent American Dietetic Association position paper reported that most of us don't even come close to the recommended intake of 20 grams to 35 grams of fiber a day. Americans' mean fiber intake is about half that --14-15 grams a day.

That's not surprising when you consider that we get fiber from 'roughage' like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and beans. The typical American isn't exactly loading his or her plate with these foods (you'd be hard-pressed to find a fruit, vegetable, whole grain, or bean in your average fast-food value meal).

Why Is Fiber so Good for Us?

Eating a higher-fiber diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, improve and prevent constipation, and slow digestion. And according to Barbara Rolls, PhD, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan, fiber can help us eat less -- and lose weight.

"Simply doubling the amount of fiber you eat from the average of 15 grams per day to around 30 grams helps reduce calorie intake," Rolls explains. "Fiber has been shown to increase satiety, not only by lowering the energy density of foods (that is, how many calories they have per serving) but also by slowing the rate that foods pass through the digestive systems."