Most Americans’ diets lack this essential nutrient, study finds

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In a new study from Texas Woman’s University, researchers found that only 5% of men and 9% of women are getting the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber.

Insufficient fiber intake is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes, two of the most common diseases in the U.S.

The researchers say that these findings can remind people to choose fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables to reduce their risk for heart disease.

For those with diabetes, it is especially important to eat enough fiber since they are at a greater risk for heart problems.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that passes through the body undigested. Though perhaps best known for its role in supporting regular bowel movements, fiber also carries important benefits for cardiovascular health.

Studies suggest dietary fiber can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation and help prevent diabetes. It can also improve blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.

In the study, the team analyzed data from more than 14,600 U.S. adults.

They found only 5% of men and 9% of women are getting the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber.

Health guidelines recommend eating 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed (g/1,000 kcal) daily.

On average, women in the study consumed 9.9 g/1,000 kcal and men consumed 8.7 g/1,000 kcal.

Among those with diabetes, women consumed 10.3 g/1,000 kcal and men consumed 9.6 g/1,000 kcal, higher than average but still falling short of recommendations.

To get the right amount of fiber, the team says the typical woman should aim for about 25 grams (for a 2,000 calorie diet), while men should aim for 38 grams (for a 2,500 calorie diet), with lower targets for those over age 50.

This typically requires a good mix of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. For perspective, choosing a whole grain such as pearled barley will provide 6 grams of fiber per cup compared to less than 2 grams of fiber in white rice.

In addition to shedding light on Americans’ eating habits, the team says the new findings can help inform future research into chronic disease prevention.

In fact, their preliminary analysis suggests that higher dietary fiber intake in adults with diabetes is strongly linked to reduced markers for heart and kidney disease.

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The study was presented at NUTRITION 2021 LIVE ONLINE. One author of the study is Derek Miketinas, Ph.D., RD.

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