35 Easy ways to eat more fiber
Fiber is a big deal and is the one nutrient you don’t want to skimp on. Fiber, the indigestible parts of plant foods – think of the thin strands in celery or the casings on edible seeds – plays a vital role in protecting you from heart disease, cancer, and digestive problems. Depending on the type, (there is more than one), it lowers cholesterol, helps with weight control, and regulates blood sugar.
How much fiber do you consume in a day? If you share the same eating habits of the majority of Americans, probably not enough. We’re told to fill our plate with fiber-rich foods and yet the average intake of fiber in the United States is only 14.8 grams a day. The national recommendations for daily fiber intake for men is 38 grams and for women, 25 grams.
What is fiber?
Fiber is the element in plants (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains) that our bodies do not digest. Fiber instead passes quickly through your digestive tract, mostly intact, which is actually a good thing for us. This undigested fiber creates bulk which aids in moving stool and harmful carcinogens through the digestive tract. When we consume a high-fiber diet has shown to help reduce various health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation, and colon cancer. Our digestive system relies on fiber for “sweeping up and out” particles and compounds that could potentially cause health issues in the small and large intestine.
If you know your fiber intake is below par, here are 30 simple, easy ways to increase it each day. It’s really not that hard - health depends on it:
1. Choose breakfast cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
2. Choose brown rice over white rice.
3. Add beans such as kidney, pinto, black or garbanzos to salads, soups and casseroles. A one-half cup serving is approximately 7 to 8 grams of fiber.
4. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Also eat the peel as it contains important nutrients.
5. Whole fruits will contain more fiber than fruit juice which as little to no fiber in it.
6. Grate carrots on salads.
7. Add blueberries, banana, peach or strawberry slices to your cereal or oatmeal.
8. Add fresh fruit to plain yogurt for a healthy snack or dessert. Raspberries are particularly high in fiber – one cup contains 8 grams.
9. Frozen peas added to a meal are a fiber booster with 9 grams in one cup.
10. Replace white pasta with whole-wheat pasta. This gives you twice as much fiber – 6 grams per cup.
11. Almonds are a storehouse of fiber – 24 nuts give you 4 grams of fiber. Eat them with a fiber-rich apple or pear and you’re on your way to meeting your fiber recommendation.
12. Try out ancients grains for a change of pace and a terrific way to get in fiber. Cooked bulgar wheat has 8 grams per cup and farro has 6 grams in one-half cup.
13. Popcorn is a fun and tasty way to add fiber to your diet. 3 cups gives you 4 grams of fiber.
14. Have a green salad every day. Experiment with different leafy greens choosing from spinach, kale, and collard greens, Swiss chard and Romaine lettuce. Add in a variety of toppings to pack a fiber punch.
15. Load up on lentils. One-half cup contains 7 grams of fiber.
16. Increase the fiber content of baked goods by using whole wheat flour in place of all purpose white flour.
17. Add dried fruit to oatmeal, cookies, and trail mix for added fiber.
18. Add ground flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seed, and goji berries to a smoothie, salad, oatmeal or yogurt for a fiber-packed pick me up. Two tablespoons has 3 grams of fiber.
19. Black chia seeds are another fiber add-in for yogurts, salads, soups, and smoothies. On-eighth of a cup contains 7 grams of fiber.
20. Replace white or wheat bread with 100% whole wheat bread for extra fiber and nutrients.
21. Three times a week have an afternoon snack of baby carrots and broccoli florets dipped in low-fat ranch dressing.
22. Mix up a concoction of peanuts, raisins, a high-fiber cereal and chocolate-covered soy nuts for a sweet yet high-fiber snack.
23. Choose whole wheat cracker
24. Instead of using mayonnaise to spread on a sandwich, try ½ cup of hummus. Doing so provides 7.5 grams of fiber. Add some spinach leaves and a tomato slice to a tasty meal.
25. Add pureed cauliflower to mashed potatoes. You won’t taste a difference but there will be extra fiber.
26. Throw some flaxseeds, wheat germ or other high-fiber add-ins to muffins and breads.
27. When having a baked potato or sweet potato, don’t throw out the skins – eat them. This will add up to 3 grams of extra fiber.
28. Always add lettuce and a tomato slice instead of cheese to sandwiches.
29. Green peas are a quick and easy wat to add vegetables to a meal plus peas provide a whopping 9 grams of fiber in one cup.
30. If you’ve never tried edamame, you really must. Not only does this soybean brim with folate but it also contains 4 grams of fiber in ½ cup serving size.
31. Make a yogurt mix with fiber-rich foods. Take plain Greek yogurt (one cup) and mix in 1/3 cup All-Bran cereal, l tablespoon ground flaxseeds, and 5 diced strawberries for a whopping 12 grams of fiber.
32. Keep a container of trail mix in your car and office for the munchies. Mix together raisins, a high-fiber cereal, and some chocolate-covered soy nuts for a high-fiber snack.
33. Make sure the first ingredient in whole-grain products has the word “whole” in it. Examples of this include, “whole wheat,” or “whole grain.” If it says multi-grain, seven-grain, nutra-grain, cracked wheat, stone ground wheat, or enriched wheat, it is not whole wheat and is lacking some of the vitamins and minerals including fiber of whole grains.
34. Every week, try one “exotic” grain. How about amaranth, bulgur, or wheat berries? Most are as simple to fix as rice, yet packed with fiber and flavor. Mix in some steamed carrots and broccoli, toss with olive oil and a bit of Parmesan cheese, maybe throw in a can of tuna or a couple of ounces of cut-up chicken and you’ve got dinner.
35. Once a week make pearl barley. One cup contains 10 grams of fiber, nearly half your daily allotment.