Nutrition Corner: More fiber makes for healthier living

Nutrition Corner - Mary R. Ehret | January 26th, 2016 3:05 pm

Recently the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the official 2015 Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines are based upon the most current research in nutrition and give guidance to meals that are served in child care centers, schools and active adult centers.

The guidelines also can help us plan healthy meals for ourselves and our families. They are based on studies which have shown to reduce the risk of illness and death due to diet-related chronic diseases. This week’s column will highlight fiber and how Americans need to increase fiber in their diets.

The new dietary guidelines have identified dietary fiber as a nutrient of public health concern because low intakes are associated with health concerns. They explain low intakes of dietary fiber are due to a lack of vegetables, fruits and whole grains in one’s diet.

There is hope. The recommendations say that if we establish a healthy eating pattern such as the Healthy U.S.-style Eating Pattern, then we will meet the recommendation for dietary fiber.

For a person who eats 2,000 calories a day, which might be too many for some, here is the pattern, with the food group listed followed by the amount recommended per day:

• Vegetables: 2 ½ cups

• Fruits: 1/1/2 cups

• Grains, 6 oz. equivalent, 3 of which needs to be whole

• Dairy: 3 cups

• Protein: 5 ½ oz.

Note the order of the food groups.

Fiber comes from the first three foods groups of the recommended pattern — vegetables, fruits and whole grains. But fiber is only one of the key nutrients in whole grain foods. Other nutrients are iron, zinc, manganese, folate, magnesium, copper, thiamin, niacin and folic acid. Vegetables and fruits also contain vitamins and minerals as well. Each vegetable and fruit is a little bit different, that is why it is important to eat a variety.

It is recommended for adults to consume 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed a day. For a diet of 2,000 calories, it should contain 28 grams of fiber. You could meet this goal by eating 1 medium pear (5 grams) and a whole-wheat English muffin (4 grams) for breakfast, 1/2 cup black beans (7 grams) with lunch, 1 cup of mixed vegetables (8 grams) with dinner and 1 medium apple for snack (4 grams).

Here is a recipe which is high in fiber and full of vegetables:

Moroccan Tomato Soup

(6 main dish servings — 2 cups per serving)

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

½ teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons honey

½ teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons honey

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) no salt added tomatoes, diced, do not drain

4 cups water or no salt added chicken stock

¼ cup fresh dill

½ cup fresh parsley

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 ½ cups cooked or canned garbanzo beans, cooked without salt and if canned, rinsed

5 ounces prewashed baby spinach

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add cayenne pepper, paprika, and cumin. Sauté for 1 minute. Add honey, cinnamon, tomatoes (with juice), water (or chicken stock), dill, parsley, Balsamic vinegar and beans. Stir well. Simmer 45 minutes. (If thicker soup is desired, use potato masher to mash some of the beans after soup has simmered 30 minutes.) Stir in spinach and heat just until wilted, 2-3 minutes. The soup can be served with fat-free sour cream or plain yogurt.

This recipe, per 2 cup serving, has 16 grams of fiber. Enjoy!

Recipe taken from the U.S. Dry Bean Council.

Nutrition Corner

Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan, and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at