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Fiber

Expert Answers to Readers’ Questions

How many vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products do I need to get enough fiber each day?

Most adult women should shoot for over 20 grams of fiber a day; men should shoot for over 30 grams. You can easily achieve 30 grams of fiber each day by eating three servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit, two servings of whole grain foods, and one serving of legumes, such as lentils, kidney, black, and lima beans. To achieve 35 grams of fiber, eat four servings of vegetables, four servings of fruit, four servings of whole grain foods, and one serving of legumes.

Note on serving sizes: One serving of fruit is one whole, medium-sized fruit or ½ cup of fruit; one serving of vegetables is 1 cup of raw vegetables or ½ cup cooked vegetables; 1 serving of whole grain food is ½ cup cooked whole wheat pasta or cereal (such as old-fashioned oatmeal), or one slice of whole wheat bread; 1 serving of legumes is ½ cup cooked lentils or beans.

To learn more, read Fiber.

How can I avoid gas and bloating when I eat fiber?

If you had previously not eaten many fruits and vegetables, and you suddenly started consuming nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you might notice some gas and bloating. It is best to start slowly and build up to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. In particular, most people tend to experience the largest amount of gas and bloating after eating beans or legumes. If this continues to be a problem, try a product like Beano™ before your meal. In addition, soaking the beans or legumes overnight and rinsing thoroughly before cooking may also help.

To learn more, read Fiber.

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The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products.