How to Eat More Fiber (& the Health Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet)

Plus, find out how much fiber you should be eating daily.

How to eat more fiber
By March 14, 2022

If you’re wondering how to eat more fiber, you’re not alone. Only one in 20 Americans eat the recommended daily intake, which means the majority are missing out on loads of health benefits that fiber has to offer. Fiber helps you feel more energetic, keeps you regular, and may even help with weight loss, as it helps you feel fuller for longer.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

The United States Department of Agriculture’s daily recommended amount of fiber for adults up to age 50 is 25 g for women and 38 g for men. For adults 51 or older, the recommended amount is 21 g for women and 30 g for men.

A 2019 study found that people who ate 25 to 29 grams of fiber per day had a 15 to 30% lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. Yet, despite the health benefits, an estimated 95% of Americans eat less than half the recommended amount of fiber per day.

How to Get More Fiber in Your Diet

Many people think high-fiber foods are expensive, complicated to prepare, or bland. This is simply not true — there are many easy ways to add fiber to your diet.

1. Start the Day With a High-Fiber Breakfast

A bowl of oatmeal, shredded wheat, or bran flakes can be a great way to up your fiber intake. Top it off with milk, banana, raspberries, and other fiber-rich fruits and nuts. Chia pudding with nuts and fruits is another tasty, high-fiber choice. Check out these fiber-filled breakfasts for more ideas!

2. Get Creative With Your Salads

If you usually have salad as a part of your lunch or dinner, add high-fiber toppings like black beans, chickpeas, or lentils. You can also add fruits and nuts to your salad to meet the daily suggested daily fiber intake.

3. Eat These High-Fiber Foods

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like material when it hits your gut. Soluble fiber is responsible for lowering cholesterol, helping heart health, and regulating blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water but adds bulk to stool and promotes stool movement. This is beneficial for people who struggle with constipation or irregular bowel movements.

Add these sources of soluble fiber to your grocery list:

  • Chia seeds

  • Oatmeal

  • Apples

  • Raspberries

  • Oranges

  • Broccoli

  • Pears

  • Black beans

  • Barley

As well as these foods with insoluble fiber:

  • Whole wheat bread

  • Cauliflower

  • Green peas

  • Potatoes (with skin)

  • Almonds

Why Fiber is Key for Good Health

1. Controls Blood Sugar

Soluble fiber — found in the foods listed above — can help lower glucose and blood cholesterol levels. As a result, you don’t get the spike of sugar or insulin that usually happens when you eat too many carbs. Studies also show that maintaining a high-fiber diet can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

2. Helps With Weight Loss

A high-fiber diet may be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. High-fiber foods take up more mass, making you feel fuller for longer, helping you control your caloric intake. A recent review of 12 studies showed that consuming soluble fiber reduced BMI, body weight, and body fat.

3. Feeds Good Gut Bacteria

Resistant starches — found in oats, legumes, cooked rice, and potatoes — are a type of fiber that can help improve your gut health, as they support bacteria diversity in the gut and help balance blood sugar. Having healthy gut bacteria can also reduce inflammation throughout the body, lowering the risk of intestinal inflammation and disease.

4. Helps Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

Research shows that a fiber-rich diet can help prevent cardiovascular disease and support heart health. Fiber intake prevents excessive cholesterol from building up in your arteries — which can potentially lead to heart attack or stroke — by lowering the amount of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) absorbed into the bloodstream.

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