Why doctors keep pushing fiber

Published: January, 2013

Easy ways to pump more into your diet.

Fiber is the nondigestible component of plant food that can help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. But not everyone fits enough fiber into the diet. "The typical American diet includes 15 grams of fiber a day, but the daily recommendation is 25 to 35 grams per day," says registered dietitian Stacey Nelson, clinical nutrition manager at Massachusetts General Hospital.

How much fiber does it take to fight chronic conditions?


Fiber Requirement

Evidence based on current data


30–50 grams daily from whole foods

Dietary fiber intake lowers blood sugar levels compared with a low-fiber diet.


20–27 grams daily from whole foods

In the prospective Nurses' Health Study, women who consumed more fiber weighed less than women who consumed less.

Heart disease

12–33 grams daily from whole foods

Dietary fiber intake may improve blood fat levels and reduce indicators of inflammation.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »