Eating enough fiber is important for helping to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. But most of us eat only about half as much fiber as we should.
Nutrition guidelines recommend 25 to 38 grams per day; the average American consumes only about 14 grams. It’s not hard to boost your fiber intake. Read on to learn the ways to add more fiber to your diet.
1. Figure out how much more fiber you need. Keep a food diary to record what you eat, and how much of it per day. Look up each food item on the Internet and see how much fiber each one contains. Here’s what you’re supposed to be getting:
- 30 grams of fiber per day for men over 50.
- 38 grams of fiber per day for men under 50.
- 21 grams of fiber per day for women over 50.
- 25 grams of fiber per day for women under 50.
2. Start with breakfast. If you can get a fiber-packed breakfast routine going, you can probably add a solid 5-10 grams of fiber to your daily diet.
- If you like to eat toast in the morning, make it whole wheat bread.
- Eat a cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.
- If you have a favorite cereal you just can’t let go of, add few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran or mix it with a high fiber cereal.
- Add fruits like berries, raisins, or bananas to your cereal (or over your pancakes or waffles) to increase your fiber by 1-2 grams.
- Bake muffins that incorporate crushed bran cereal or unprocessed wheat bran.
- Substitute old fashioned steel cut oats for quick microwave oatmeal for an additional 2-4 grams of fiber per serving.
3. Eat whole grains. Whole grains are higher in fiber because they haven’t had the outer skin removed through processing. Not only will this offer the health benefits of added fiber, but it can also help you lose belly fat. A diet rich in whole grains changes the glucose and insulin response in your body, which hastens the melting of fat, and visceral fat, that deep layer of fat, is easier for your body to burn than the subcutaneous fat under your skin (the fat that you can see and grab).
- Replace white bread with whole wheat bread. If that’s too far of a stretch for you, have sandwiches with one slice of white bread and one slice of whole wheat bread.
- Eat whole wheat pasta. Again, if you don’t like the taste, mix it with your regular pasta, or eat it in dishes with heavy sauces like macaroni and cheese.
- Have brown or wild rice instead of white rice. Alternatively, throw some barley in with your white rice for more fiber content.
4. Leave the skin on. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet will add fiber, but only if you eat the skin, because that’s where all the fiber is. So don’t peel those apples before you eat them.
- If you’re eating potatoes, try to leave the skin in the dish or if you peel them, make a snack out of them, such as baked garlic Parmesan peels.
- It’s also worth knowing that keeping the skin on potatoes when you cook them will help keep more vitamins and minerals in the flesh.Just don’t eat any parts of skin that are green.
5. Start every dinner with a mixed green salad. Not only will it add fiber, but with a low-calorie vinaigrette dressing, it will partially fill you up with very few calories, and thus offers great benefits in weight loss/control.
6. Eat more beans. Beans are generally very high in fiber, as well as in protein.
- Add them to soup or salads.
- Eat hummus.
- Eat more Mexican food! Many Mexican dishes (burritos, enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas, nachos) incorporate beans.
7. Throw some flaxseeds, wheat germ, or other high-fiber add-ins into batter. They add crunch to your cookies, muffins, and breads—and loads of fiber.
8. Try some split pea soup. Split peas is a fiber “power food”. Just one cup of them contains 16.3 grams of protein.
9. Eat more nuts. Like beans, nuts are a tasty way to get additional fiber. Peanuts and almonds are especially great sources of fiber. A 1/4 cup of almonds has 4 grams of fiber in it.
10. Have a beet salad for dinner. These bright red veggies have virtually no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, quite a bit of potassium, and 2 grams of fiber.
- Try roasting whole, peeled beets for 45 minutes, chilling, then dicing into a summer salad.
11. Add fiber to your diet slowly. If you are currently getting 10 grams of fiber a day, don’t jump to 35 grams of fiber the next day. You need to give the natural bacteria in your digestive system time to adapt to your new fiber intake.