You probably know that fiber is important for good health, but do you know if you are getting enough? Most people in the US aren’t. Only 15 grams of fiber are eaten by the average adult every day.
The Institute of Medicine says that women need 25 grams of fiber per day and men need 38 grams per day.
Making up for the Fiber Gap
The best way is to eat more plant foods like vegetables, beans, fruit, whole grains, and nuts. This is one of the recommendations in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. government.
All of these foods are naturally high in nutrients, including fiber, and give you all the health benefits that come with eating a diet high in fiber.
Beans, peas, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, artichokes, whole wheat flour, barley, bulgur, bran, raspberries, blackberries, and prunes are some of the best sources of fiber.
Fiber can be found in lettuce, dark leafy greens, broccoli, okra, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, potatoes with the skin, corn, snap beans, asparagus, cabbage, whole wheat pasta, oats, popcorn, nuts, raisins, pears, strawberries, oranges, bananas, blueberries, mangoes, and apples.
To get more fiber in your diet, you should avoid refined grains like white flour, white bread, white pasta, and white rice and replace them with whole grains. The Dietary Guidelines say that at least half of your grains should be whole grains, but now that there are so many whole grain options, it’s easy to eat even more whole grains than that.
Whole foods are the best way to get fiber because they also give your body other important nutrients.
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
There are different amounts of fiber in all plant foods.
Most fiber is either water-soluble or water-insoluble, which means that it doesn’t dissolve in water.
Soluble fiber is found in beans, peas, lentils, oatmeal, oat bran, nuts, seeds, psyllium, apples, pears, strawberries, and blueberries. Soluble fiber is linked to lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, controlling blood sugar, and a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, barley, whole-grain couscous, brown rice, bulgur, wheat bran, nuts, seeds, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, nuts, grapes, and tomatoes. It helps you go to the bathroom regularly, keeps you from getting constipated, and lowers your risk of getting the diverticular disease.
High-fiber foods can also make you feel full longer and stop you from eating too much. Foods with a lot of fiber fill you up. They take longer to chew, which may help you feel fuller more quickly.
Fiber has also been linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer and other types of cancer.
Fiber-Packed Meal Plan
This day’s sample menu has 37 grams of fiber:
Breakfast: Whole-grain bran flakes cereal (5 grams of fiber), half a banana (1.5 grams of fiber), and skim milk
Snack: 24 almonds (3.3 grams of fiber) and 1/4 cup of raisins (1.5 grams of fiber)
Lunch: Two slices of whole wheat bread with a turkey sandwich, lettuce, and tomato (5 grams of fiber), and an orange (3.1 grams of fiber)
Snack: Half a cup of blueberries with half a cup of yogurt (2 grams of fiber)
Dinner: Grilled fish with a salad of romaine lettuce and shredded carrots (2.6 grams of fiber), half a cup of spinach (2.1 grams of fiber), and half a cup of lentils (7.5 grams of fiber)
3 cups of popped popcorn: a snack (3.5 grams of fiber)
How to Get More Fiber 7 Ways
- Start your day with at least 5 grams of fiber in a whole-grain cereal. Check the list of ingredients to make sure that the whole grain, like whole wheat, whole rye, or whole oats, comes first.
- Read the labels and choose foods that have at least a few grams of fiber per serving. Each serving of a good source of fiber has between 2.5 and 4.9 grams of fiber. A good source has at least 5 grams per serving.
- For sandwiches, use whole-grain bread that have at least 2–3 grams of fiber per slice.
- Instead of juice, choose whole fruit. A whole piece of fruit can have twice as much fiber as a glass of juice.
- Add beans to soups, stews, salads, egg dishes, chili, and Mexican dishes. At least one vegetarian meal a week should have all beans instead of meat.
- Try out main dishes from other cultures, like Indian or Middle Eastern, that are made with whole grains and beans.
- Raw vegetables with bean dip or hummus are a good snack.
It is best to slowly add more fiber to your diet and drink a lot of water so that your digestive system has time to adjust. A good rule of thumb is to add about 5 grams of fiber per day and spread it throughout the day until you reach your goal.
Also, read Health Benefits Of Almonds.