Fiber is an essential component of a healthy diet. Fiber aids digestion, lowers the risk of heart disease and helps regulate blood sugar. Adding more fiber to your diet can even help you lose weight because it makes you feel full longer.
The recommended daily intake for fiber varies by age and gender. According to the Mayo Clinic, men older than 50 need 30 grams of fiber per day, while younger men need 38 grams; women older than 50 need 21 grams of fiber per day and younger women need 25 grams.
To ensure you get enough fiber each day, you need to know how much fiber is in the foods you eat. You can calculate the amount of fiber in each food you eat by looking it up in an online nutritional database.
Point your browser to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory’s searchable nutrient database at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/.
Enter the name of the food you want to analyze in the box labeled “Keyword.”
Choose a food group from the food group drop-down menu and then click on the submit button. The default food group selection is “All Food Groups,” which will show you every food item that contains the keywords you entered. Selecting a specific food group narrows the search.
Look at the list of food items found in the database that contain your keyword. Find the specific food item in which you are interested, click on the radio button located at the left to select the food and then click on the submit button.
Look at the list of serving sizes for the food item. The database contains information for foods measured in several different ways. Find the measurements you use, click on the checkbox located at the left to select the measurement, enter the amount of food in the box and then click on the submit button. You can select up to 5 different food measurements to be included in the report.
Read the report to find the amount of fiber in the food. If you can’t spot the line in the report that lists the fiber content, use your browser to highlight it by choosing “Find” from the “Edit” menu and typing “fiber” into the search box.