Ask Peggy

How much fiber is in individual foods?

Dear Peggy: My husband's recently been put on a high-fiber diet. Healthy Cooking lists the fiber grams for each recipe, so it has been very helpful, but how do I find out how much fiber is in individual foods, such as an apple? —C.H., Greenbrier, Arkansas

The Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans recommend a daily fiber intake of 25 to 30 g, but how do we know if we're getting enough? Fresh produce and bulk items don't always include nutrition labels, so you might have to do a little research. Luckily, there are many reliable resources for that information.

For fiber and other nutrient listings, try:

  • The Most Complete Food Counter, 2nd Edition, by Annette B. Natow, Ph.D., R.D. and Jo-Ann Heslin, M.A., R.D.
  • Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used,
    by Jean A.T. Pennington, Ph.D., R.D. and Judith Spungen
    Douglass, M.S., R.D.
  • The Calorie King Food Database www.calorieking.com
  • The USDA What's In The Foods You Eat Search Tool www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=12096

"Good sources" of fiber have at least 2.5 g per serving, while "high-fiber" foods contain at least 5 g per serving. Fiber-rich foods tend to be high in vitamins and minerals, low in calories and more filling than other foods. They also promote healthy digestion and can even lower cholesterol. To increase your fiber intake, choose products made with whole grains, eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day and, of course, check nutrition labels.