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Some Helpful Hints for Increasing the Amount of Fiber in Your Diet

May 31, 1990|TONI TIPTON

It would take roughly 14 oat bran bagels, a 1/2 pound of oat bran pretzels, 11 cups of Cheerios, nearly three cups of oat bran flakes cereal or, depending upon the brand, four to seven oat bran muffins each day, to provide the amount of fiber in two ounces of oat bran.

If it sounds like a lot to swallow, consider: In studies of the highly concentrated form of fiber's cholesterol-lowering effect, the volunteers ate three ounces.

Although it is probably possible to achieve a cholesterol-lowering benefit by using these products, it places an undue emphasis on bran as a source of fiber. Other foods are equally valuable.

A one-ounce serving (1/3 cup) of oat bran supplies about four grams of total fiber (a mix of soluble and insoluble). The same amount of rice bran offers nine.

It is estimated that Americans eat only about 11 grams of fiber daily--equivalent to about one cup of kidney beans, three and a half apples or one and a half cups of chopped broccoli. The National Cancer Institute recommends up to 35 grams daily for good health.

With some simple menu substitutions, that goal is easy to accomplish. Including a morning serving of hot or cold bran cereal and a high-fiber muffin at lunch or dinner time is a good plan. Then, shift the menu focus to raw or lightly steamed vegetables, dried beans and legumes, fresh fruits, whole grains (including brown rice, which contains the bran), pastas, breads and cereals. This will simultaneously fill the stomach and make you feel less hungry.

Eating whole wheat toast with one-half pat butter and one teaspoon jam instead of white toast and one pat butter will add two extra grams of fiber while it reduces the amount of fat in the diet. In the evening, if you substitute one-half cup cooked green peas (which supply eight grams of fiber) for green beans, which supply only three grams, you get an easy fiber bonus.

Dietary fiber, roughage and bulk are terms that refer to the undigestible part of plants. Their fibrous texture causes these foods to act like a kitchen broom, sweeping the intestines and colon clean of wastes and helping to reduce constipation. Cancer experts say this can decrease risk for some forms of the disease. They report that people who eat a high fiber diet show a low incidence of most gastrointestinal ailments.

Water insoluble fiber, is the thread or wood-like part of the husks and shells found in foods such as wheat bran, peas, dried figs, beans and legumes. It is not capable of holding onto water particles so it moves quickly through the digestive system, frequently taking toxic substances with it.

Soluble fiber also has a positive effect on digestion. Found in the cell walls of oats, apples, pears and citrus fruits, it also has a role in reducing blood cholesterol levels. Since it does dissolve in water, it forms a gel-like substance in the intestines that slows digestion. This quality is important to diabetics and others who have medical conditions requiring a delay of the absorption of carbohydrates into the body.

Both forms of fiber are important to good overall health. The American Dietetic Assn. warns, however, against eating more than 50 grams of fiber daily; it might have adverse effects such as decreased mineral absorption and stomach discomfort.

The following menus each supply about 30 grams of fiber per day. They are not intended for use on consecutive days. Rather, they are examples of how to substitute high fiber whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables for their refined, canned and otherwise processed counterparts.

Some normally low-fiber foods, such as pancakes and muffins are also included, but their fiber content has been increased by the addition of whole wheat flour and bran.



3/4 cup cooked oat bran or 1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cantaloupe

1 cup nonfat milk

1 teaspoon reduced calorie margarine

1 teaspoon brown sugar


Tuna Sandwich:

(3 ounces water packed tuna

1 tablespoon reduced calorie mayonnaise

1 whole wheat roll)

1 cup nonfat milk

Tossed green salad

1 tablespoon reduced calorie dressing


3 ounces baked chicken breast or fish

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1/2 cup cooked spinach

1/2 cup whole kernel corn


1/2 cup strawberries

1/4 cup low-fat yogurt



1 orange

4 Rice Bran Pancakes

2 teaspoons reduced calorie margarine

1 to 2 tablespoons reduced calorie syrup

1 cup nonfat milk


1 cup lentil or bean soup

1 (3-inch) square corn bread

1 cup nonfat milk

1 pear


Pork Medallions With Prunes

1/2 cup cooked green beans

1 baked potato



1 Raisin Rice Bran Muffin

1 scrambled egg

1 cup fresh fruit salad

1 cup nonfat milk


Turkey Sandwich:

(3 ounces turkey breast

2 sliced rye or whole wheat bread

1 tablespoon reduced calorie mayonnaise

Lettuce and tomato)

1 apple


1 cup whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce

1/2 cup sliced, steamed zucchini or broccoli

1 piece French bread


2 oatmeal cookies

1 cup nonfat milk


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