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Diverticulitis Diet

A diet that is high in fiber can help reduce diverticulitis attacks. Another important part of a diet for diverticulitis is avoiding certain foods that may irritate or get caught in the diverticula; these foods to avoid include nuts, popcorn hulls, and sunflower, caraway, or sesame seeds. Decisions about diet should be made based on what works best for each person.

An Introduction to the Diverticulitis Diet

Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet may reduce symptoms of diverticulosis and prevent complications such as diverticulitis. Fiber keeps stool soft and lowers pressure inside the colon so that bowel contents can move through easily. The American Dietetic Association recommends 20 to 35 grams of fiber each day (see the following table for the amount of fiber in some foods that you can easily add to your diet).
Until recently, as part of a diverticulitis diet, many doctors suggested avoiding foods with small seeds such as tomatoes or strawberries, because they believed that particles could lodge in the diverticula and cause inflammation. However, it is now generally accepted that only foods that may irritate or get caught in the diverticula cause problems. These foods include:
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn hulls
  • Sunflower, pumpkin, caraway, and sesame seeds.
The seeds in tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, and raspberries -- as well as poppy seeds -- are generally considered harmless.
People differ in the amounts and types of foods they can eat. Decisions about a diverticulitis diet should be made based on what works best for each person. Keeping a food diary may help identify individual items in your diet.

Diet for Diverticulitis: Fiber in Foods Table

Amount of Fiber in Some Foods
Apple, raw, with skin
1 medium = 3.3 grams
Peach, raw
1 medium = 1.5 grams
Pear, raw
1 medium = 5.1 grams
Tangerine, raw
1 medium = 1.9 grams

Asparagus, fresh, cooked
4 spears = 1.2 grams
Broccoli, fresh, cooked
1/2 cup = 2.6 grams
Brussels sprouts, fresh, cooked
1/2 cup = 2 grams
Cabbage, fresh, cooked
1/2 cup = 1.5 grams
Carrot, fresh, cooked
1/2 cup = 2.3 grams
Cauliflower, fresh, cooked
1/2 cup = 1.7 grams
Romaine lettuce
1 cup = 1.2 grams
Spinach, fresh, cooked
1/2 cup = 2.2 grams
Summer squash, cooked
1 cup = 2.5 grams
Tomato, raw
1 = 1 gram
Winter squash, cooked
1 cup = 5.7 grams

Starchy Vegetables
Baked beans, canned, plain
1/2 cup = 6.3 grams
Kidney beans, fresh, cooked
1/2 cup = 5.7 grams
Lima beans, fresh, cooked
1/2 cup = 6.6 grams
Potato, fresh, cooked
1 = 2.3 grams

Bread, whole-wheat
1 slice = 1.9 grams
Brown rice, cooked
1 cup = 3.5 grams
Cereal, bran flake
3/4 cup = 5.3 grams
Oatmeal, plain, cooked
3/4 cup = 3 grams
White rice, cooked
1 cup = 0.6 grams

Source: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 15.

Information on Diverticulitis

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