February 2016 Issue

Fiber: Creative Ideas to Boost Intake
By Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD, LD, LN
Today's Dietitian
Vol. 18 No. 2 P. 16

Dietitians may feel as though they have a bit of a sales job to do when it comes to persuading clients to eat more dietary fiber.

"Clients often think fiber is dry and tasteless or envision slimy prunes—what a misconception," says Catherine Hauser, MPH, RD, at F-Factor Nutrition, a private nutrition counseling practice in New York City. "Fiber is found in so many delicious foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. These foods easily and deliciously can be incorporated into the diet."

Consumers clearly need a bit of help increasing their fiber intake. The average daily fiber intake in the United States is 17 g per day, with only 5% of the population meeting the Adequate Intake (AI) level of 25 g for adult women and 38 g for adult men (or 14 g fiber per 1,000 kcal), according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' (the Academy) 2015 position paper on dietary fiber.1

The AI for fiber is based on the amount that's protective against coronary heart disease.1 A high-fiber diet also helps protect against type 2 diabetes, some cancers, weight gain, and digestive problems.1 And there's no upper limit advised for fiber intake.1

"Encouraging clients to add an extra 10 g of fiber each day will help them get closer to the recommended intake," says Wendy J. Dahl, PhD, RD, an associate professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville and coauthor of the Academy's recent position paper on fiber. To help dietitians better counsel clients and patients on how to boost fiber intake, Today's Dietitian asks the experts for flavor-filled ideas for meeting daily requirements.

Fruits
Most whole fruits supply at least 1 or 2 g of fiber per serving, especially if they have edible skin or seeds. Dried fruits, such as figs and prunes, are more concentrated in fiber, but the calories can add up quickly, Dahl says. The following are a few whole-fruit standouts:

Go for berries. Raspberries have one of the highest fiber contents of commonly eaten fruits, packing 8 g of fiber in a 1-cup serving, and blackberries are close behind, with 7.5 g fiber per cup.2,3 Blueberries and strawberries are good choices, too, with 3.5 g and 3 g fiber per cup, respectively.4,5 Hauser suggests clients use raspberries to make a sauce to spoon over cooked chicken or pork. Use a 1:2 ratio of balsamic vinegar to muddled (mashed) raspberries, warm for five minutes over medium heat, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Pick up some pears. A medium-sized pear with the skin has 5.5 g fiber.1 "Try pears sliced on arugula salad or served alongside ricotta cheese with honey and cinnamon for a sweet treat," Hauser suggests.

Get creative with kiwifruit. "Try replacing the jelly in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with slices of skin-on kiwifruit," says Eric Stein, MS, RD, CCE, certified culinary educator and chef at wellnesschef.com. A serving of two green kiwifruit (without the skin) provides 4 g fiber.6 According to The Kiwi Administrative Committee, eating kiwifruit with the skin on triples the fiber.7

Swap in avocados. Just 1/4 cup of pureed avocado has 4 g fiber and can be used to replace one-half of the butter in muffins, cakes, and other baked goods, and it provides healthful monounsaturated fat and less saturated fat.8,9

Vegetables
Clients would be hard-pressed to find a vegetable without fiber. Even 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes has 2 g of fiber.10 "One misconception is that cooking affects fiber content," Dahl says. "Cooked veggies have just as much fiber as raw." Try the following creative ideas to dial up the flavor:

Roast brassica veggies. One cup of cooked broccoli has 5 g fiber, Brussels sprouts have 4 g, and cauliflower has 3 g.11-13 Slow-roast any of these veggies with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper at 350° F for 20 to 25 minutes, turning them halfway through the cooking time, Stein suggests. Brussels sprouts still a tough sell? "You also can dress Brussels sprouts with a flavorful sauce, such as a spicy Jamaican jerk sauce," he says.

Think outside the box. Suggest clients try leafy vegetables as a swap for refined bread or grains that are used as the base in some dishes, Hauser says. "For example, if you're a fan of burritos, use two large cabbage leaves (or any leafy greens with large leaves) in place of a tortilla," she says. "Or, try a new vegetable in your sandwich, such as sliced, cooked artichoke hearts," Hauser says.

Get sweet on sweet potatoes. A 1-cup serving of cooked sweet potatoes, without the skin, has 6.5 g fiber.14 "Cube and roast sweet potatoes with sliced onions and a little olive oil, and toss in some dried prunes for added sweetness (and fiber)," says Pat Baird, MA, RDN, FAND, a nutrition consultant in Greenwich, Connecticut, and founder of confidenthealth.org.

Pulses and Other Legumes
Pulses, which consist of dried beans, dried peas, and lentils, average 7 g fiber per 1/2 cup cooked.15,16 Although they contain lots of fiber, they don't contribute much to Americans' fiber intake because they don't eat them often.1 Suggest these ideas to stretch clients' bean repertoire.

Purée them for dips. "Beans make an incredible base for dips, which is particularly helpful for clients who don't gravitate toward beans," Hauser says. "No fiber is lost when beans are puréed. So combine pureed black beans with salsa, traditional Mexican spices, and ricotta cheese. Or, use puréed white cannellini beans to replace one-half of the cream cheese in a spinach-artichoke dip." For time-pressed cooks, prepared hummus (traditionally made from chickpeas) is readily available in supermarkets and packs 4 g fiber in a 2-tablespoon serving.17

Buy some green split peas. They're perfect in soup. "Although you don't need to soak dried green split peas before cooking, I like to rinse then soak them in water with spices, such as cumin seeds, because the peas soak up the flavor, creating a flavor-infused pea—and that reduces the amount of salt you need to add to your recipe, too," says Jessie Hunter, MPH, RDN, director of domestic marketing for the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council and the American Pulse Association.

Sneak pulses into sweets. "Although you may think of lentils for savory dishes, these little pulses also taste great in sweet dishes," Hunter says. "Try 1/4 cup precooked or canned lentils in your favorite smoothie." Or, purée a 15-oz can of drained and rinsed black beans with a bit of water and add them to a box of brownie mix, Dahl says. Both avocados and black beans can be added to muffins, cakes, and an array of other desserts as egg/butter replacements.

Whole Grains
The fiber content of whole grains varies with the type of grain and degree of processing.1 A 1/2-cup serving of whole-wheat pasta averages 2 g fiber, while a 1/2-cup serving of cooked bulgur or wheat berries (farro, kamut, or spelt) packs 4 g fiber.18,19 For flavorful ways to boost intake of whole grains, recommend clients do the following:

Get a boost from bulgur. "Bulgur is easily cooked simply by steeping in boiling water," Stein says. "Try swapping out cooked pasta for cooked bulgur in a salad with roasted bell peppers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto."

Cook and bake with cereal. "Crush ready-to-eat whole grain cereal and add it to recipes such as meatballs, muffins, and banana bread," Dahl suggests. "Some meatball recipes have some sort of starch to hold the meatballs together, so substitute a crushed high fiber cereal for the starchy ingredient."

Make it better with barley. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked, pearled barley has 3 g fiber.20 "Barley is kind of forgotten, yet it's easy and foolproof to make," Baird says. "Barley is a good addition to soups and stews, and it makes a great risotto." Unlike most grains where fiber is mainly in the outer bran layer, barley contains fiber throughout the grain kernel.21

Learn to love rye. Suggest clients check for rye crackers in the specialty foods section of supermarkets. "Some rye crackers have 2 g fiber per cracker, and most are low in sodium and fat, so they're a much better choice than usual cracker choices," Dahl says. Pair rye crackers with reduced-fat cheese or low-fat spreads for lunch or a snack.

Nuts and Seeds
Including small portions of nuts or seeds (since they're calorie dense) can contribute fiber, too. Nuts average 2 to 3 g fiber per 1-oz portion (around 1/4 cup).22 Seeds pack even more fiber. Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds has 4 g fiber, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds has 2 g fiber, and 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds has about 1/2 g fiber.23-26 (Although flaxseeds don't have to be ground to get the fiber, they do require grinding to get the benefits of the flax oil, Dahl says. Chia seeds, however, have a soft exterior and don't require grinding to receive the full benefits.) Nut and seed butters also provide fiber. A 1-tablespoon serving of sunflower seed butter has 1 g fiber, and 1 tablespoon of almond butter has 1.5 g fiber.27,28

Sprinkle them on. "I like to keep it simple and add nuts and seeds either raw or toasted into dishes," Stein says. "For example, add them to pilafs and other grain dishes, use them as garnishes for soups, salads, and desserts, or mix them into breakfast cereals and granola."

Use nut butters as dessert toppings. "When I want to cut calories from saturated fat in desserts, I use nut butters to make 'whipped cream,'" Stein says. "Purée nut butter with some maple syrup and a little bit of water until it's creamy, then use this as a topping for fruit pies."

— Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD, LD, LN, is a nutrition writer and consultant in South Dakota.

References
1. Dahl WJ, Stewart ML. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: health implications of dietary fiber. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(11):1861-1870.

2. Basic report: 09302, raspberries, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2374?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=raspberries

3. Basic report: 09042, blackberries, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website.
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2161?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=blackberries

4. Basic report: 09050, blueberries, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2166?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=Blueberries

5. Basic report: 09316, strawberries, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2385?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=strawberries

6. Basic report: 09148, kiwifruit, green, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2253?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=Abridged&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=kiwifruit

7. Frequently asked questions. California Kiwifruit Commission website. http://www.kiwifruit.org/about/faqs.aspx

8. Basic report: 09037, avocados, raw, all commercial varieties. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2156?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=avocado

9. Use avocado as a healthy butter substitute. California Avocados Direct website. www.californiaavocadosdirect.com/13/use-avocado-as-a-healthy-butter-substitute.aspx

10. Basic report: 31036, potatoes, mashed, ready-to-eat. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/8233?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=35&sort=&qlookup=potato

11. Basic report: 11091, broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website.
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2872?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=broccoli

12. Basic report: 11099, Brussels sprouts, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2880?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=Brussels+sprouts

13. Basic report: 11136, cauliflower, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2909?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=cauliflower

14. Basic report: 11508, sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3208?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=sweet+potatoes

15. What is a pulse? Pulse Canada website. http://www.pulsecanada.com/food-health/what-is-a-pulse. Accessed December 3, 2015.

16. Garden-Robinson J, McNeal K. All About Beans — FN 1643. North Dakota State University website. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/landing-pages/food-and-nutrition/all-about-beans-fn-1643. Published November 2013. Accessed December 3, 2015.

17. Basic report: 16158, hummus, commercial. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4885?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=hummus

18. Basic report: 20013, bulgur, cooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6484?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=bulgur

19. Basic report: 20125, pasta, whole-wheat, cooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website.
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6576?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=pasta

20. Basic report: 20006, barley, pearled, cooked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6478?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=Barley

21. Barley — February grain of the month. Oldways Whole Grains Council website. http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/barley-february-grain-of-the-month

22. Nutrient comparison chart for tree nuts. California Almonds website. http://www.almonds.com/sites/default/files/content/Tree%20Nut%20Nutrient%20Comparison%20Chart%20Web%20File.pdf. Accessed December 4, 2015.

23. Basic report: 12220, seeds, flaxseed. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3716?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=flaxseed

24. Basic report: 12536, seeds, sunflower seed kernels from shell, dry roasted, with salt added. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3719?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=sunflower+seeds

25. Basic report: 12016, seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3617?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=pumpkin+seeds

26. Basic report: 12006, seeds, chia seeds, dried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3610?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=chia+seeds

27. Basic report: 12040, seeds, sunflower seed butter, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website.
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3630?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=sunflower+seed+butter

28. Basic report: 12195, nuts, almond butter, plain, without salt added. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service website.
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3707?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=almond+butter

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