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Making Sense of Foods

Understanding Fiber

Estimating the Fiber in Foods: Quick Fiber Check

The Quick Fiber Check is a handy little tool. Using its simple scoring concept, which takes only a minute or two to learn, you'll automatically be able to estimate the fiber content of virtually everything in the grocery store. 

To check your own meals, write down everything you ate or drank for one full day on a piece of paper. Now, next to each food, jot down its fiber score, using the following guide: 

  • Beans: For each serving of beans or lentils (one serving = one half cup) or any food that includes about this amount of beans or lentils as an ingredient, mark 7.  One one–half cup of tofu rates 3.  For one cup of soymilk, mark 1.
  • Vegetables: For each serving of vegetables (one serving = one cup), mark 4.  An exception is lettuce, for which one cup scores 2.  A potato with skin scores 4; without the skin, it scores 2.
  • Fruit:  For each medium piece of fruit (e.g., apple, orange, banana, one cup of apple sauce, a banana smoothie), mark 3.  For one cup of juice, mark 1. 
  • Grains: For each piece of white bread, bagel, or equivalent, score 1.  Whole grain breads score 2. One cup of cooked pasta scores 2. One cup of rice scores 1 for white and 3 for brown. One cup of cooked oatmeal scores 4. Score 3 for typical ready–to–eat cereals, 1 for highly processed and colored cereals, and 8 for bran, or check package information.
  • Meat, poultry, or fish: Score 0. Animal products do not contain fiber.  
  • Eggs or dairy products: Score 0. 
  • Sodas, water: Score 0.

Interpreting Your Quick Fiber Check Score

Less than 20: You need more fiber in your diet. As it is, your appetite will be hard to control, and you may have occasional constipation. Boosting fiber will help tame your appetite and can cut your risk of many health problems. 

20–39: You are doing better than most people in Western countries, but as you bring more fiber into your diet, you will find that it makes foods more satisfying and cuts your calorie intake a bit. 

40 or more: Congratulations. You have plenty of healthy fiber in your diet. It tames your appetite and helps keep you healthy. Fiber also reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and digestive problems. 

 

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