Most Americans are trying to consume more fiber these days. Unfortunately nine out of 10 Americans fall short of the daily recommended fiber intake. The average American eats only half the daily recommended amount of fiber which is 30-40 grams of fiber/day depending on your age, and most Americans average only 14 grams of fiber/day.

There are numerous health benefits to getting your daily dose of fiber including lowering your cholesterol, providing a feeling of fullness, and adding healthy bacteria to your gut.

Fiber is the non-digestible part of plant foods found in grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Undigested fiber provides friendly immune-boosting bacteria through a process called fermentation. There are two main types of fiber - soluble and insoluble. Think of soluble fiber as a sponge; it collects and removes toxins including bad (LDL) cholesterol from our bodies. Foods containing soluble fiber include oatmeal, apples, pears, legumes and barley. Soluble fiber adds bulk to stools while insoluble fiber increases movement of the bowels. Insoluble fiber, or roughage, works like a broom in a sweeping or cleaning motion of the intestines. Examples include wheat bran, some whole wheat products, fruits and vegetables.

Whole grain vs. fiber

Don't be fooled by whole grain and be sure to “Flip for Fiber.” This means turning over the label to make sure a claim is true. If a product claims to be 100 percent whole wheat, then the first ingredient most likely is whole wheat providing at least 2-3 grams of fiber or more per serving. If a package reads wheat, natural, multi-grain or whole grain, you must check the first ingredient on the ingredient list to verify that a whole grain is the first ingredient listed and then that the fiber grams/serving are at least 3 grams or more. If the first ingredient reads “enriched” or “refined,” then chances are the fiber grams per serving are equal to or less than 1 gram and the beneficial fiber has been removed in processing. Make the time to check your bread label and see how much fiber you are eating.

• A “good” source of fiber = 10% Daily Value or 3 grams per serving • An “excellent” source of fiber = 20% Daily Value or 5 grams of fiber

How to add more fiber to your diet

• Try to have at least one fruit and or vegetable with each meal • Leave the skin on fruits and vegetables • Serve hummus instead of high-fat dips • Include a whole grain at each meal and snack • Add beans to soup and casseroles • Prepare a whole grain for breakfast such as quinoa, steel-cut oats or barley

BBQ Turkey Sandwich

All you need: 1/2 cup shredded cooked turkey 1/4 cup shredded carrots 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce 2 teaspoons light ranch dressing 1 bakery whole grain cocktail roll 1 leaf romaine lettuce

All you do: 1. Combine turkey, carrots and barbecue sauce in a bowl. Spread ranch dressing on the bun. 2. Top with the turkey mixture and lettuce.

Nutrition information per serving: 265 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 54 mg cholesterol, 25 g carbohydrates, 26 g protein, 4 g fiber, 495 mg sodium.

Source: Adapted from Eating Well

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at