Getting enough fiber is important for your health.For one, it can reduce constipation and help with weight loss and maintenance.
It may also lower cholesterol levels, as well as your risk of diabetes and heart disease.This may be because fiber is a prebiotic, meaning it promotes healthy gut bacteria.Yet most people aren’t getting enough fiber.
The Institute of Medicine recommends 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams for women. Americans average only around 16 grams of fiber per day, which is about half of the recommended amount .These are 16 ways you can add more fiber to your diet.
Fiber is a type of carb found in plant-based foods.
While most carbs break down into sugar, fiber stays intact as it passes through your digestive system. Eating fiber along with other carbs helps you feel fuller for longer.It also slows the time it takes digestible carbs to be absorbed into your bloodstream. That helps regulate your blood sugar levels.
Whole-food carb sources all naturally contain fiber. These include fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
For a number of reasons, you should eat lots of vegetables. For one thing, they lower your risk of several chronic diseases. Nonstarchy vegetables are particularly low in calories and high in nutrients, including fiber.Eating your vegetables before a meal is a good strategy for eating more of them.
In one study, women given salad before a meal ate 23% more vegetables than those served salad at the meal itself .Eating salad or vegetable soup before a meal has also been linked to eating fewer calories during a meal
Popcorn is one of the best snack foods around.That’s because it’s actually a whole grain, delivering four grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams). That’s three cups of air-popped popcorn .For the healthiest popcorn, air pop it either in a brown paper bag in the microwave or in an air popper.
Individual pieces of fruit, such as an apple or pear, make great snacks because they’re tasty and portable.
All fruit delivers fiber, although some have significantly more than others.For instance, one small pear has five grams of fiber, whereas a cup of watermelon has one gram .Berries and apples are other high-fiber fruits.The fiber from fruit can improve fullness, especially when paired with food that contains fat and/or protein, such as nut butter or cheese.
Whole grains are minimally processed, leaving the whole grain intact.
In contrast, refined grains have been stripped of their vitamin-containing germ and fiber-rich hull.
This makes the grain last longer but also takes away the most nutritious parts, leaving only a fast-absorbing carb.
Replace the refined grains in your diet with whole-grain versions. In addition to oatmeal or brown rice, try:
It’s best to get your nutrition, including fiber, from food. But if your fiber intake is low, you might consider taking a supplement.A few types of supplements have research to back them up.Guar fiber: As a supplement, guar fiber may improve fullness and lower your overall calorie intake. It’s also used in processed foods to improve texture .
First, they can cause stomach discomfort and bloating. To reduce this, introduce a fiber supplement gradually and drink plenty of water.Second, these supplements can interfere with the absorption of certain medications, so take your meds at least an hour before or 4 hours after the supplement.
Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses.
They provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as 11 grams of fiber per ounce .These small seeds gel in water and are 95% insoluble fiber.Insoluble fiber helps keep your digestive tract moving and is important for colon health. It is also linked to a lower risk of diabetes.Other forms of seeds — flax, sesame and hemp, for example — have similar nutrition profiles and are also smart choices.
Proponents of juicing say juice — especially cold-pressed vegetable juice — is a good way to incorporate a lot of vegetables into your diet.Indeed, juice can have high amounts of micronutrients.Yet even unpasteurized, cold-pressed juices have been stripped of fiber, leaving only a concentration of carbs, specifically in the form of sugar.While vegetable juices have less sugar than fruit juices, they have far less fiber than you get from eating whole vegetables.
Avocados are incredibly nutritious fruits.The creamy, green flesh is not only rich in healthy, monounsaturated fatty acids — it’s also packed with fiber.In fact, half an avocado delivers five grams of fiber .
Avocados have been linked to improved heart health, as well as to overall better diet quality and nutrient intake .You can use an avocado instead of butter, or use it to top salads and other dishes.
Nuts and seeds provide protein, fat and fiber. An ounce of almonds has three grams of fiber. They’re also high in unsaturated fats, magnesium and vitamin E .What’s more, nuts and seeds are versatile foods. They’re shelf-stable and nutrient-dense, making them ideal snacks to have on hand.You can also use them in recipes to add extra nutrition and fiber to your meals.
When baking, choose a flour that will add extra nutrition to muffins, breads and other baked goods.
You can easily replace white flour with whole-wheat pastry flour. This fine-textured flour has three times as much fiber as white flour .Some alternative flours are even richer in fiber.
For example, an ounce of coconut flour has eleven grams of fiber, while the same amount of soy flour has five grams .
Several other non-wheat flours have three grams of fiber per ounce — the same as whole wheat flour. These include almond, hazelnut, chickpea, buckwheat and barley flours .
Berries with seeds are among the most fiber-rich fruits.For the most fiber, choose raspberries or blackberries at 8 grams per cup. Other good choices are strawberries (3 grams) and blueberries (4 grams) .Berries also tend to have less sugar than other fruits. Add berries to cereal and salads, or pair them with yogurt for a healthy snack. Frozen and fresh berries are equally healthy.
Legumes — that is, beans, dried peas and lentils — are an important part of many traditional diets.They’re very rich in fiber, as well as protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals.
In fact, a cup of cooked beans can deliver up to 75% of your daily fiber needs .
Replacing meat with legumes in a few meals per week is linked to increased life span and a decreased risk of several chronic diseases. Their positive impact on the gut microbiome may be partially responsible for these benefits .There are several ways to increase legume consumption:
When you peel fruits and vegetables, you often remove half the fiber.For instance, one small apple has 4 grams of fiber, but a peeled apple has only 2 grams .
Similarly, a small potato has 4 grams of fiber, two of which are from the skin .While cucumbers aren’t particularly high in fiber, one cucumber has 2 grams of fiber and half of this is in the peel .The kind of fiber found in the peel of fruits and vegetables is generally insoluble fiber.
Whole plant foods are the ideal way to get fiber. However, if you are going to eat processed foods, you may as well choose products that are rich in fiber.Some foods — including yogurt, granola bars, cereals and soups — have functional fibers added to them.
These are extracted from natural sources and then added to foods as a supplement.Common names you can look for on food labels are inulin and polydextrose.Also, read the nutrition label to see how many grams of fiber are in a serving. Over 2.5 grams per serving is considered a good source, and 5 grams or more is excellent.
Spread your fiber intake throughout the day. Focus on eating high-fiber foods at each meal, including snacks.
Here’s an example of how to make high-fiber choices throughout the day:
Fiber is immensely important for your health.
By adopting some of the strategies mentioned above, you can increase your fiber intake to optimal amounts.