Fiber can help you lose weight, stay full between meals, lower your cholesterol, and prevent heart disease and diabetes. Fiber is the part of plants that our bodies can’t digest. It remains more or less intact, which is why it helps move stuff through the body.
Do I Need More Fiber?
Chances are, you do need more fiber. Men under the age of 50 should get 38 grams per day, while those over 50 need 30 grams, says the Institute of Medicine. Women under the age of 50 should aim to get 25 grams a day, while those over 50 should have 21 grams.
How much fiber does an average American actually consume? About 16 grams per day, according to the USDA. The good news is there are plenty of ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Here are five ways to eat more fiber:
1. Eat More Whole Plant Foods
Fiber is only found in plant-based foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds. You won’t find fiber in any animal products like meat or dairy.
Choose whole plant foods or foods that have been minimally processed to be sure you’re getting the most fiber possible. For example, juices are processed and contain no fiber, while smoothies have been minimally processed and are a good source of fiber.
2. Look for 20% Daily Value
If you do reach for a packaged food, read its nutrition label to check its Daily Value for fiber. Choose foods with close to 20% or more of the Daily Value. This means it’s an excellent source of fiber, with more than 5 grams per serving. For comparison, if a food has close to 5% or less of the Daily Value, it’s low in fiber.
3. Choose These Fruits & Veggies
Certain fruits and veggies have more fiber than others. Incorporate these foods into your diet to get the most fiber for your buck.
High Fiber Fruits:
- Raspberries, 8g per cup
- Pears, 5.5g per medium fruit with skin
- Apple, 4g per medium fruit with skin
- Banana, 3g per medium fruit
High Fiber Veggies:
- Artichokes, 10g per medium cooked veggie
- Broccoli, 5g per cooked cup
- Brussels sprouts, 5g per cooked cup
- Cauliflower, 5g per cooked cup
*Based on USDA National Nutrient Database
4. Eat More Beans
Beans contain roughly 14 to 19 grams of fiber per cup, depending on the type. Beans also have the perfect mix of protein and fiber. This combo helps keep you full and satisfied with less food and fewer calories.
If beans tend to give you some not-so-pleasant GI-related side effects, try introducing them into your diet a little bit at a time. That is, avoid having a large portion all at once.
Here are some creative ways to add more beans to your meals:
- Use hummus as a spread on sandwiches
- Add pureed white beans to mashed potatoes
- Add pureed kidney beans to tomato-based pasta sauces
- Mash chickpeas and add to tuna salad
- Mash edamame and add to guacamole
5. Switch to Whole Grains
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, while refined grains like white bread and white pasta contain little fiber. This is because the fiber-containing part of the grain is usually taken out during processing.
Try whole grains like oats, barley, brown rice, millet and amaranth. Check out our recipes with whole grains for culinary inspiration.
Try These High-Fiber Recipes
We’ve got a collection of tasty high-fiber recipes perfect for any occasion. Here are some of our favorites: