“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. (Genesis 1 :29)

I picked up the latest issue of Diabetes Self-Management magazine and it had a very interesting article on fiber.  If you are like me (and not necessarily a diabetic) you probably see and have read so many articles about the other elements in our food…the benefits and the hazards, you may be surprised at how easy fiber can be overlooked.  Sure, there are a few scant commercials about fiber in some foods (Kellogg’s or Post (Nabisco’s) Shredded Wheat or General Mills Fiber One quickly come to mind) but rarely is it more than just a tagline or dangled like an asterisk to fulfill a government mandate.

Let’s face it fiber just isn’t sexy!  It’s not fun to count like calories, carbohydrates or your cholesterol index.  It is avoided in most polite conversations, as it is usually associated with (whispered) regularity.  Fiber is more than nature’s laxative.  A high-fiber diet can aid in weight loss.  A diet high in certain kinds of fiber can also lower blood cholesterol and have a positive effect on blood glucose level.  And since I do not want to ignore its impact on the “regularity”, it may lower the risk of diverticulitis (inflamed or infected large intestine), hemorrhoids, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Who knew?

So after reading the article, I took a look at what I was growing in my garden and my diet in general to see how I was stacking up to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for fiber intake (I guess 2011 guidelines haven’t been released yet).  Their recommendation is based on a fiber intake of 14 grams per 1,000 calories per day.  So if you are a woman under age 50 you should have 25 grams per day and if you are a man under 50 you should have38 grams.  As calorie needs decrease with age, a female over 50 should have 21 grams of fiber per day and a man should have 30 grams.  Amazingly, most Americans consume only half of the recommended amounts.  Looking at a typical day, let’s see how I am doing…

Standard Breakfast

One bowl of Instant Oatmeal  (3 grams)

One Slice of Toast  (1 gram)

One whole Grapefruit  (4 grams)

One 8 oz. Glass of Grapefruit Juice

Standard Lunch

Turkey Sandwich on an Onion Roll

Onion Roll  (1 gram)

One Onion Slice

1 cup Lettuce or Cabbage/Cole Slaw (1 gram)

One Tomato Slice (.25 gram)

¼ cup Sliced Green or Red Bell Pepper (1 gram)

½ cup of Four Bean Salad  (2 gram)

1 oz. Potato Chips (1 gram)

Standard Dinner (not including meat)

Brown Rice (2 grams)

——– or ———–

Baked Potato (2 grams)

1 cup of Green Beans  (4 grams)

Snacks

1 Medium Apple (4 grams)

3 cups Cooked Air-popped Popcorn (3 grams)

1 ounce Peanuts (3 grams)

Total daily intake of fiber: 30.25 grams

I’m almost there…right on the nose!

 

Now let’s take a look at what I am growing…

 

Green Beans ½ cup = 2 grams

Broccoli ½ cup = 3 grams

Carrots (1 medium) = 2 grams

Romaine Lettuce 1 cup = 1 gram

Green Peppers 1 cup = 2 grams

Summer Squash ½ cup = 1 gram

Tomato 1 cup = 2 grams

Zucchini 1 cup = 1 gram

So it looks like hitting the goal for a man my age isn’t difficult to achieve.  And the more I eat from my garden (which I do all summer long) the easier it becomes, since I eat far more fresh produce in the form of salads (I would encourage people to eat more raw vegetables) and amendments to certain meals (scrambled eggs with a blend of green, red, and yellow peppers along with onions, garlic and chives or a breakfast burrito).  Also, I am sure that the various cooking styles (recipes) I employ allow me to consume more since there is a greater and more diverse use of vegetables in ethnic cuisine.

Lastly, let us not ignore the benefits of dried seeds or beans.  A quick look at these two groups show that they are excellent sources of fiber…

Beans (Serving size ½ cup, cooked)

Black Beans, 8 grams

Garbanzo Beans, 6 grams

Kidney Beans, 6 grams

Lentils, 8 grams

Pinto Beans, 8 grams

White Beans, 7 grams

Peas, 4 grams

All of which I make good use of in soups!

Seeds/Nuts (Serving size 1 oz.)

Almonds, 4 grams

Peanuts, 3 grams

Pistachios, 3 grams

Sesame Seeds, 4 grams

Sunflower Seeds, 3 grams

Walnuts, 2 grams

So take stock of what you are eating, just like I did, and see how much room for improvement there is.  Now that I know how close I am, I know I can and will do better.  I will get more than enough…I deserve it!

For more information on Dietary Guidelines go to…

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Euell Gibbons

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