DEAR DR. BLONZ: Is there a best food for fiber? I want to increase my intake and want something convenient that does not taste like cardboard. -- S.S., Concord, California
DEAR S.S.: We should aim for about 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed, but Americans tend to eat rather low on the fiber scale. Population studies continually find that an increased consumption of dietary fiber is associated with a lower risk of diabetes, coronary artery disease and obesity. The best foods in terms of convenience and fiber content would have to be breakfast cereals: Cereal fibers are associated with the most overall importance to our health. There's no better way to start the day than with a bowl of fiber-rich cereal topped by fresh fruit. That is what I do. I also consider making time for breakfast to be a valuable adjunct to health.
If fresh fruit is unavailable for your morning bowl of cereal, consider dried fruits. They are an often-overlooked fiber resource with a great variety of rich fruit flavors, and the fact that they are dried gives them an extended shelf life. Their concentrated sugars also allow you to reduce or eliminate other sweeteners on your cereal. Dried fruits also work in your child's lunch box, or as a quick office treat, making a between-meal power snack when combined with nuts.
Next we have nuts, seeds, vegetables and grains, with legumes (beans) and whole grains being particularly low in fat and high in fiber. What about fiber supplements? There are plenty out there, and they may be appropriate when certain health issues are involved. But why even think of a supplement when you have all the fiber you need in whole grains and fresh, whole foods, which are the precise types of foods you should be eating? For more on fiber, consult the National Institutes of Health collection at tinyurl.com/2qp9l2.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: Does sunscreen prevent the absorption of vitamin D? I walk daily for about 30 minutes, but depending on the weather, I am covered with a light sweater or sunscreen. I am over 60 and take a calcium supplement with 1,000 IU of vitamin D. Am I getting any vitamin D from my daily exposure, or should I be taking additional amounts in a supplement? -- P.F., Oakland, California
DEAR P.F.: Sunscreens come in various strengths, but in general they are specifically designed to prevent ultraviolet rays from penetrating your skin. It is these rays that are necessary for the body to make its own vitamin D. You do, however, seem to have your D covered. Is there a particular reason you are considering taking more? You can discuss this with your physician. There are blood tests to determine the level of vitamin D in your body. Read more on sunscreens at tinyurl.com/kp895ep. The National Institutes of Health has a list of articles on vitamin D at tinyurl.com/mmtlu68.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.