Fiber is an essential nutrient for good health. Find out how to easily add more fiber to your diet every day, no supplements required!
Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet
There’s an important nutrient you may not be getting enough of – fiber! Only five percent of Americans are getting the recommended amount of fiber daily. Women need 25 grams a day, and men need 30-35 grams per day. But, the average American only gets about half that!
When we think of fiber, it’s not necessarily the sexiest nutrient. It’s associated with bowel movements and chalky supplements. However, if you are eating a well balanced diet, there is no need for supplements, because fiber is found in tons of whole foods. Fiber is found in all plant foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds.
What is fiber?
Dietary fiber is the structural part of plant foods that the human body cannot digest. When we eat fiber, it passes through undigested, which keeps us full and aids blood sugar control. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, so it slows digestion. Also, it can help manage blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.
Insoluble fiber does not absorb water. It can prevent constipation as it helps foods move through the digestive tract.
There are several health benefits of eating a high fiber diet. Fiber helps maintain good bowel movements, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, and help with weight loss or maintenance. Also, a high fiber diet may lower the risk of colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease.
When increasing fiber consumption, it’s important to drink plenty of water to avoid impaction. So, make sure you’re hydrating with meals and throughout the day.
5 tips to add more fiber to your diet
1. Include fruits and vegetables at every meal.
All fruits and vegetables contain fiber. Include at least one serving of fruit, vegetables (or both!) at every meal, so you’re eating fiber throughout the day. Meals that contain fiber will help keep you full for longer, too! By eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, you are nourishing your body with many vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber.
One serving of fruit is equal to a medium size piece of fruit (about the size of a tennis ball), 1 cup of measurable fruit (like berries), or 1/4 cup of dried fruit. A serving of vegetables is equal to 1 cup of raw veggies or 1/2 cup of cooked veggies.
2. Swap out refined grains for whole grains.
Instead of refined grains like white rice or white bread, choose the whole grain option. For example, whole wheat bread has double the fiber of white bread. When shopping for grain based products, the first ingredient should be 100% whole grain/whole wheat flour.
If you love pasta, try whole wheat pasta or alternative pastas, made from chickpeas, lentils, or other legumes. Chickpea pasta has almost 3 times the amount of fiber as regular pasta.
The key to a filling, satisfying snack is fiber + protein. Always include a fiber source during snack time so you’re not hungry 20 minutes later. Some perfect snack ideas that pair fiber and protein include:
While all fruits contain fiber, berries with seeds have the most. One cup of raspberries or blackberries contains 8 grams! For comparison, one banana provides about 3 grams of fiber, and one apple provides about 4 grams.
5. Eat beans and legumes regularly.
Beans and legumes are some of the best sources of dietary fiber. For example, a 1/2 cup serving of black beans contains 8 grams. They’re also incredibly versatile, affordable, and easy to add to any meal.
Try adding chickpeas to a salad, make tacos with black beans, whip up a lentil soup, or blend white beans into a delicious dip.