Health and nutrition professionals say we should consume between 25 and 35 grams of fiber every day. And for good reason. Studies show that fiber contributes to good health by reducing risk factors for certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease and by providing protection against certain cancers.

Unfortunately, most Americans don't get enough fiber in their diets. But there's good news. Increasing fiber intake is actually very easy. And you can choose foods that the whole family will enjoy. Cereal grains such as barley, whole wheat and oats, and many fruits and vegetables are good choices when it comes to increasing fiber intake.

How much is enough? The USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommends that we eat 6 to 11 servings of cereal grains and around 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. That may seem like a lot of food, but it's actually not. Check out these recommended serving sizes:

One serving of cereal grains equals:
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal
  • 1/2 cup of cooked cereal such as barley flakes or rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of cooked pearl barley, rice or pasta

  • One serving of vegetable equals:
  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of raw or cooked vegetables

  • One serving of fruit equals:
  • 1 medium apple, banana or orange
  • 1/2 cup of chopped raw, cooked or canned fruit

  • For more detailed information about barley and its fiber content, click on Nutrition Notes. For more information on barley research, click on Research/Industry and read about preliminary findings from a clinical trial conducted in 2001 measuring the effects of soluble fiber from pearl barley products on blood cholesterol, blood pressure and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

    Getting enough fiber is easy and delicious. Here's to good eats and good health!