As a Registered Dietitian, even I struggle with getting the recommended amount of fiber. Did you know that men should aim for 38 grams/day and women should aim for at least 25 grams/day? However, the average intake is around 15 grams/day. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are all good sources of dietary fiber. If you’re familiar with the benefits of fiber, you probably know that it contributes to a healthy digestive system. Fiber can also slow the digestion of carbohydrates, which can be beneficial for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels especially for individuals with diabetes. When introducing more fiber into your diet, it is important to do it gradually. Try increasing your fiber intake by 3-5 grams each week until you reach the recommended daily amount for your age and gender. These small increases will help you avoid any uncomfortable gas or bloating while reaching your goal.
With summer upon us, I find it easier to get more fiber because of the wonderful selection of fresh fruits and vegetables making this the perfect time to add more fiber to your diet. Fruits and vegetables available in the summer include peaches, plums, mangos, blackberries, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, sweet corn and bell peppers. Bell peppers, zucchinis, peaches and nectarines all contain about 2 grams of fiber. One mango has about 5 grams of fiber and 1 cup of blackberries provides 8 grams of fiber. Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables is such a treat and it also means I look forward to eating different foods each season!
My favorite produce of the summer would have to be sweet corn, which provides about 2.5 of fiber for an ear of corn. Living in the Midwest means I can find sweet corn for sale in the grocery store, local farmers’ markets and even roadside stands. You may also see it included in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) produce programs. The fiber found in sweet corn has similar health benefits to soluble corn fiber or some other added fibers. Added fiber is an ingredient that can boost the fiber content of foods including beverages, packaged foods, cereals and more. Regardless of the source of fiber, labels that say “good source of fiber” contain 2.5 grams of fiber per serving. These could be food to consider adding for the goal of adding 3-5 grams of fiber per week until you reach the recommended intake.
One of my favorite summer recipes is this summer harvest pasta salad made with whole wheat rotini, sweet corn and bell peppers, which contains about 3 grams of fiber per serving. During the summer these types of dishes are perfect because it doesn’t require a lot of cooking or preparation and it goes well with grilled chicken or steak.
Summer Harvest Pasta Salad
8 oz. whole wheat rotini noodles (dry) or 5 cups cooked
2 cups sweet corn
1 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
2 cups grape tomatoes, chopped in half
1 medium cucumber, sliced and quartered
¼ cup white vinegar
½ cup Canola oil
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Prepare pasta as directed, set aside and cool. Combine all vegetables and set aside. Once pasta has cooled completely, combine pasta with vegetable mixture.
Whisk together vinegar, canola oil, fresh garlic, salt and pepper until ingredients are fully mixed. Pour over vegetable mix and stir well. Chill and serve.
Serving size: 1 cup
Total Fat: 11g
Amber Pankonin MS, RD, CSP, LMNT is a registered dietitian and licensed medical nutrition therapist based in Lincoln, NE, and a paid contributor to the Calorie Control Council. She works as a nutrition communications consultant, freelance writer, food photographer, and adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Amber shares her love for food and nutrition at Stirlist.com, an award-winning website, focusing on healthy, easy recipes for the busy cook. Amber serves on several boards including the Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group, and also cofounded a group to motivate female entrepreneurs in her town. You can follow her on Twitter @RDamber, Instagram, Pinterest, or connect with her on Facebook.