Getting plenty of fiber in your diet keeps your digestive system healthy and can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber-rich meals also keep you feeling fuller for longer—a big plus if you’re trying to lose weight.
Yet when you’re used to the average modern diet, full of highly processed foods, it’s not always easy to figure out how to get the recommended 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Remedying that situation may be a lot easier than you think, though. A wide variety of foods are both high in fiber and big on taste, so you have plenty of easy, delicious ways to give your body the fiber it needs.
1. Start Your Day With High-Fiber Breakfast Cereal
If you enjoy cereal for breakfast, make sure you pick a brand that’s rich in fiber. High-fiber cereals typically contain between five to 10 grams of fiber per serving. That means you could meet up to half your daily fiber needs from a single bowl of cereal. To boost your cereal’s fiber content even more, stir in a handful of raisins, chopped nuts or fresh berries.
2. Snack for Your Health
When you’re craving something sweet, skip the candy and opt for berries instead. Raspberries, blackberries, and boysenberries are loaded with fiber as well as health-promoting antioxidants. Pair these with a little cottage cheese to get a healthy dose of fiber and protein in one. Apples and pears with the skin on are also great sources of dietary fiber.
For a convenient source of fiber when you’re on the go, take along a small bag of nuts or seeds. Nearly all nuts and seeds contain significant fiber, but almonds, pistachios, and pecans are particularly rich sources.
3. Swap Meat for Beans
Meat may be an excellent source of protein and minerals, but it won’t help you reach your dietary fiber goals. If you typically eat meat with most of your meals, try replacing some of those meat dishes with beans or legumes.
Beans soups, casseroles, and chili warm and satisfy in the winter months, while cold bean salads are ideal for warmer weather. To get the most fiber per gram, opt for navy beans, black beans, lima beans, adzuki beans, lentils, and chickpeas
4. Switch to a High-Fiber Bread
The average commercially made white bread is as pitifully low in fiber as it is in most nutrients. For more dietary fiber and better nutrition all around, pick whole-wheat, whole-rye or multigrain bread.
Check the label carefully. Just because the bread is brown, looks “grainy” or comes with a sprinkling of seeds that’s no guarantee it’s whole grain. For the greatest health benefits, stick with breads that are labeled “100% whole grain” and list whole-wheat or whole-rye flour first in the ingredients list.
5. Bump up the Fiber in Your Home Baked Treats
Baking your own quick breads, muffins, scones, and cookies not only saves you cash, but it also gives you more control over what goes into them, including the amount of fiber. In most recipes, you can increase the fiber content by replacing white flour with 100% whole wheat flour. Light and flakey baked goods, such as pie crusts and delicate pastries, are trickier. These may require recipes specifically developed to use whole wheat flour.
Blending a tablespoon or two of bran or freshly ground flaxseed into the flour is another way to boost the fiber content of your baked goods. To add more fiber, flavor, and texture, try incorporating some rolled oats, chopped nuts or chopped dried fruit into the recipe.
6. Opt for High-Fiber Vegetables
Many vegetables provide significant amounts of fiber, but cruciferous veggies are among the richest sources. This group include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and Swiss chard. The exception is lettuce, which contains very little fiber. Some types of squash, such as acorn, summer, and hubbard squash, are also especially rich in fiber. To maintain the flavor and fiber content of your veggie dishes, avoid overcooking them. When you can, eat your vegetables raw or lightly steamed.
7. Use Your Grains
More than just a quick, hot breakfast, oatmeal is also one of the richest sources of soluble fiber. This type of fiber helps lower your cholesterol by stimulating your liver to burn the cholesterol it has stored. Not a fan of oatmeal? Then try millet or buckwheat for a quick, no-fuss hot breakfast.
Brown and wild rice provide more fiber, minerals, and B-vitamins than refined white rice. These types of rice also provide complex carbohydrates, so they digest more slowly and won’t cause your blood sugar to spike as much as white rice. Pearl barley, although not a whole grain, is an excellent source of soluble fiber and can stand in for rice in soups, risottos, and stuffed peppers.
With so many high-fiber vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and grains available, you’ll never be short on options for boosting your diet’s fiber content. Make an active decision to eat more whole or minimally foods and you’ve already won half the battle.