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Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. Whole grains or foods made from them contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. If the grain has been processed (e.g., cracked, crushed, rolled, extruded, and/or cooked), the food product should deliver approximately the same rich balance of nutrients that are found in the original grain seed. Women should consume 25 grams of fiber per day and men about 38 grams per day.

The benefits of whole grains include:

  • Improvement in digestive issues since fiber increases the bulk in the intestinal tract and can help with bowel movements. This is especially helpful with those elderly living in a long-term care facility who may have issues with constipation
  • Blood sugar control for diabetes as fiber may help reduce blood sugar levels after meals
  • Heart disease risk may be reduced as fiber can help to reduce cholesterol
  • Better weight maintenance since fiber can make you feel fuller longer and perhaps eat less. Generally, foods high in fiber are lower in calories

Foods that are high in fiber include:

  • 1/3-3/4 cup high fiber bran ready-to-eat cereal (9.1-14.3 grams)
  • ½ cup cooked navy beans (9.6 grams)
  • 1-1/4 cup shredded wheat cereal (5-9 grams)
  • ½ cup cooked lentils (7.8 grams)
  • ½ cup cooked black beans (7.5 grams)
  • 3 cups air-popped popcorn (3.5 grams)
  • 1 medium raw pear (5.5 grams)
  • ½ cup avocado (5 grams)
  • 1 medium apple with skin (4.4 grams)
  • ½ cup raspberries (4 grams)
  • 1 medium sweet potato (3.8 grams)
  • 1ounce almonds (3.5 grams)
  • 1 medium banana (3.1 grams)

When adding fiber to the diet, make sure plenty of water is also consumed to avoid any digestive issues such as constipation, nausea or bloating. Fiber is found naturally in foods so choose foods with fiber rather than fiber supplements.