What is Dietary Fiber?

Close up of noodle dish

January is Fiber Focus Month! Fiber plays an important role in our bodies and has been shown to reduce risk of diseases like intestinal and heart disease, as well as some cancers. But what exactly is dietary fiber?

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that our bodies can’t digest or use for energy. However, dietary fiber is still crucial to have in our diets’ since it can help improve colon health, control blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol levels. It also provides food for the healthy bacteria that live in our gut. 

 

The current dietary recommendation for fiber is 14 grams for every 1,000 Calories consumer per day. (For example, the recommendation for someone who needs 1,800 Calories per day would be about 25 grams per day.) Most people, however, do not meet these current dietary recommendations. One way to increase your fiber intake is understanding food package labeling. The Nutrition Facts labels on food packaging has fiber information under the “total carbohydrate” section. Remember: If a food package claims that it’s high in fiber, the food has at least 20% of the recommended daily value; if a food package claims it’s a good source of fiber, the food item has between 10 – 15% of the recommended daily value. 

Food Label to show dietary fiber

 

To learn more ways to increase your fiber intake or about good food sources of dietary fiber, be sure to read more of CNS’s January Blog posts featuring fiber topics all month long. For more information about dietary fiber, read the CNS’s latest Nutrition Factsheet: https://cns.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk416/files/inline-files/fact-consumer-fiber.pdf 

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