Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. Eating a fiber-rich diet may reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes, lower your cholesterol levels, and help you lose weight by increasing satiety. Aim to eat at least 20-35 grams of fiber each day. If you don't eat a lot of fiber now, increase your intake by small amounts and drink plenty of fluids to prevent constipation.
Fiber comes in two forms. Think of soluble fiber as the inside of an apple and insoluble as the skin of the apple.
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel in the intestines. This gel feeds healthy bacteria in our gut. Sources include rolled or steel-cut oats, barley, kidney beans, fruits and vegetables. This fiber helps to reduce serum cholesterol.
- Insoluble fiber passes through the digestive system, absorbing water and adding bulk to stool. Sources include wheat bran, whole grains like buckwheat and brown rice, and many vegetables and skins of fruit.
4 or more grams (g) of fiber per serving
- All-Bran cereal (1/2 cup) - 9.7g
- Prunes, stewed (1/2 cup) - 8g
- Lentils (1/2 cup) - 7.8g
- Flaxseed, ground (2 tbsp.) - 7g
- Artichoke (1 med.) - 6.5g
- Chick peas, cooked (1/2 cup) - 6.2g
- Figs, dried (1/4 cup) - 6g
- Kidney beans, cooked - 5.6g
- Bran flakes (3/4 cup) - 4.6g
- Green peas, cooked (1/2 cup) - 4.4g
- Spinach, raw (1 cup) - 4.3g
- Pear - 4g
2-4 grams (g) fiber per serving
- Soy beans, cooked (1/2 cup) - 3.8g
- Carrots, raw (1 cup) - 3.8g
- Wheat germ (1/4 cup) - 3.8g
- Apple - 3.7g
- Popcorn (3 cups) - 3.6g
- Potatoes, baked with skin - 3.4g (without skin - 2.5g)
- Almonds (1 oz.) - 3.3g
- Strawberries (1 cup) - 3.3g
- Prunes, dried (1/4 cup) - 3g
- Orange - 3g
- Corn, cooked (1/2 cup) - 3g
- Broccoli, raw (1 cup) - 2.6g (cooked, 1/2 cup - 2.2g)
All high-fiber foods contain a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, soluble fiber can sometimes be hard to find. The following is a list of foods with significant amounts of soluble fiber.
- rolled or steel-cut oats
- kidney beans
- oat bran
- black-eyed peas prunes
- baked beans
- great northern beans
- brussels sprouts
Tips for adding fiber to your diet
- Make 1-5 min rolled oats or cook steel-cut oats for the week.
- Add nuts and fruit to your oatmeal - fresh (banana, peach), frozen (berries without syrup) or dried (raisins, apricots).
- Try whole grain bread with crunchy peanut butter and a cup of berries or an apple.
- Use 100% "whole wheat" bread with sandwiches. Make sure "whole wheat flour" is in the ingredients list.
- Add kidney beans and chickpeas to your salad.
- Have a vegetable - like, fresh spinach and tomatoes on your sandwich, or baby carrots to munch on.
- Go meatless once a week and incorporate lentils, beans and edamame to your meal.
- Add spinach, corn, lima beans or Brussel sprouts to your plate.
- Eat the skin of your baked potato.
- Use brown rice instead of white rice.
- Try nuts (with the skin).
- Choose raw whole fruits instead of fruit juice.
- Eat a bowl of popcorn, air-popped or popped in canola oil.