Hello Fiber, Good-Bye Knee Pain!

By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

I make it a goal to add fruits or vegetables to each of my meals and most of my snacks. So, with my breakfast this morning, I added mango slices and peanut butter to my bowl of Greek yogurt. I had cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes with my lunch — and then with dinner, I ate an entrée salad with a slice of whole-grain bread.

These fruits and veggies boast fiber — and a recent study in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases shows a potential connection between fiber intake and some pretty cool health benefits.

Increased body weight and inflammation have been linked with knee osteoarthritis, and a higher fiber intake has been connected with decreased body weight. The study authors looked to expand upon this: They looked at the self-reported fiber intake of thousands of overweight older adults with and without osteoarthritis. The findings are super-interesting and may be an incentive to get in the daily recommended amount of fiber. They show that eating fiber-rich foods such as cereal, fruits, and vegetables may be associated with a reduced risk of osteoarthritis and may ease the symptoms in people who are already suffering. Subjects who ate the most fiber (about 21 grams daily in one study population and about 26 grams in another study sample) experienced the greatest benefit.

People eating the most fiber were also likely to take in more vitamin C and vitamin K, as well as less saturated fat. This isn’t so surprising, given that fiber-rich foods like fortified cereals, fruits, and vegetables are also full of vitamins and minerals.

Fiber-rich foods include beans, lentils, fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. Give them a try! Your actual daily fiber needs depend on your age and gender.

Women, ages 19 to 30: 28 grams
Men, ages 19 to 30: 33.6 grams
Women, ages 31 to 50: 25.2 grams
Men, ages 31 to 50: 30.8 grams
Women, ages 51 plus: 22.4 grams
Men, ages 51 plus: 28 grams

Remember what I ate today? Here’s how I exceeded my daily recommended amount of 25.2 grams:

Breakfast: Plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup mango slices (2.6 grams fiber) and 1 tablespoon peanut butter (1.6 grams fiber)
Lunch: Tofu with 1 cup baked sweet potato (6.6 grams fiber) and 1 cup tomatoe slices (2.2 grams fiber)
Dinner: 2 cups lettuce (2 grams fiber) with 1/3 cup tomato slices (0.7 grams fiber), mozzarella, and 1 slice whole-grain bread (1.9 grams fiber)
Snacks: Banana (3.1 grams fiber), 1 ounce almonds (3.5 grams fiber), fruit-and-nut bar (3 grams fiber), dark chocolate
TOTAL: 27.2 grams fiber

What are your favorite high-fiber foods and recipes? Tell me on Connect @amy_gorin!

Read more posts from The Eat List.

Amy Gorin is a freelance writer and registered dietitian nutritionist in New Jersey. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest