30 creative ways to eat more fiber

wholegrainbread (Victory/Shutterstock)

What is the purpose of fiber in my diet?

Almost every weight-loss regimen encourages “good carbs” as part of a long-term, healthy, lean diet. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds, are made up primarily of complex sugar molecules that take a long time and energy to breakdown into the simple sugars your body requires for fuel.

One of the most important advantages of foods high in complex carbohydrates is that they are high in fiber. In its most basic form, fiber refers to the indigestible components of plant meals. The husk on a wheat grain, the thin threads in celery, the peel on an apple, and the casings on edible seeds are all examples. Fiber keeps you healthy by preventing heart disease, cancer, and digestive issues. Fiber decreases cholesterol, aids weight loss, and improves blood sugar levels, depending on the type (there are several!). Check out why fiber is so important and what happens when you eat more of it.

In conclusion, this is one nutrient you should not overlook. Despite this, the average American consumes fewer than 12 grams of fiber per day, significantly less than the 25 to 30 grams suggested. Here’s how to get more fiber and “healthy carbs” into your diet with no effort.

cereal by esolla/Shutterstock

Breakfast should consist of cereal every day.

Ideally, choose unsweetened whole grain cereal with at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. Breakfast cereal, in fact, can help to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Kellogg’s All-Bran Original, Kashi GOLEAN, and General Mills Fiber One are three healthy, high-fiber cereals to consider. (Do you like bran? Try this bran muffin recipe recommended by a dietitian.)

eatingapple/Glayan/Shutterstock

Every day, consume two apples.

Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that contributes to a sensation of fullness and digests slowly, not simply to keep the doctor away. According to studies, eating pectin lowers overall calorie intake. Take a look at these healthful foods that are even more nutrient-dense than you might think.

yogurt (victoriasky1/Shutterstock)

One day a week, make a morning yogurt mix.

Mix 1/3 cup All-Bran cereal, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds, and 5 large chopped strawberries into one small container of yogurt for a whopping 12.2 grams of fiber—nearly half your daily intake!

babycarrots (Atiwan Janprom/Shutterstock)

hummus-dipped baby carrots and broccoli florets

Each cup of vegetables will fill up the empty space in your stomach while also providing roughly 5 grams of fiber. Hummus is also high in fiber. Three times a week, have this as an afternoon snack. When you don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables, this is what happens to your body.

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If you have the cravings, keep a container of trail mix at your workspace.

Combine almonds, raisins, a high-fiber cereal, and chocolate-covered peanuts in a mixing bowl. Allow yourself a tiny handful as a sweet, high-fiber snack.

wholegraincrackers (Don Pablo/Shutterstock)

Make the switch to whole-wheat crackers.

You wouldn’t think a single whole wheat cracker could make a difference, but one has 1/2 gram of fiber. Five grams of fiber are provided by ten crackers. So, the next time you make nut butter, put it on whole-grain crackers (look for natural nut butter to avoid trans-fats). Here are some suggestions for increasing your intake of whole grains.

cereal by Paul Reid/Shutterstock

Combine your ordinary cereal and the high-test cereal.

Let’s be honest for a moment. We wouldn’t want to be confronted with an entire bowl of All-Bran. However, only a third of a cup has a whopping 8.5 grams of fiber. If you combine it with an equal number of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, for example, you’ll barely notice it’s there (but you will be one-third of the way to your daily fiber intake).

kidneybeansalad by Julie Deshaies/Shutterstock

Toss your salad with beans.

In just 1/2 cup of beans, you’ll get roughly 7 grams of fiber! Black beans, white beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, fava beans, cannellini beans, and red beans are all good options.

Shutterstock/A Lein wholegrainbread

Make sure the first component includes the word “whole.”

Half of your grains should be whole grains, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. “Whole wheat” or “whole grain” are examples of this. It’s not whole wheat whether it reads multi-grain, seven-grain, nutri-grain, cracked wheat, stone-ground wheat, or enriched wheat; it lacks some of the vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, that whole grains provide.

bulgur by Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock

Every week, give one “abnormal” grain a try.

Amaranth, bulgur, farro, freekeh, or wheat berries are all good options. Most are as easy to prepare as rice yet are high in fiber and flavor. Add some steamed carrots and broccoli, stir with olive oil and a pinch of Parmesan or feta cheese, and serve with a can of tuna or a couple of ounces of cut-up chicken. Serve with chicken or fish as a side dish. Make sure you only eat whole grains when you experiment with grains.

pearlbarley/Stolyevych Yuliya/Shutterstock

Make pearl barley once a week.

Make pearl barley as a side dish (it doesn’t need to be soaked before cooking). One cup has 10 grams of fiber, which is over half of your daily requirement. Barley is a versatile grain that can be used as a breakfast cereal, a side dish, or a rice substitute. Barley has a plethora of health benefits.

oatmeal (Alena Haurylik/Shutterstock)

Include oatmeal in your diet.

Oatmeal isn’t only for breakfast (but it sure is a tasty morning choice). For meatloaf and meatballs, use ordinary oats instead of bread crumbs, sprinkle it on top of casseroles and ice cream, bake it into cookies and muffins, and use it in handmade breads. To reduce your sugar intake, stay away from flavored quick oatmeal mixtures. Serve your morning porridge with a poached egg, avocado slices, or other unexpected additions.

Shutterstock/Foodio wholewheatsandwich

Every day, make your sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

Whole-wheat choices are available at even sandwich restaurant chains for midday eating. Use whole-wheat bread as the bottom layer of your sandwich and normal bread as the top layer if you want to ease into the whole-wheat club. Make the healthy switch to whole grains in the end. Choose bread that contains at least 4 grams of fiber each slice.

brownrice (Matt Antonino/Shutterstock)

Switch from a white to a brown grain once a week.

As a result, instead of white rice, you use brown rice. You use whole-wheat pasta instead of normal spaghetti. Similarly, instead of conventional couscous, use whole-wheat pitas, whole-wheat English muffins, whole-wheat tortillas, and whole-wheat couscous. You should be eating entirely whole grains after two months, and you should have easily boosted your daily fiber consumption by 10 grams without drastically altering your diet! Amaranth, for example, is an ancient grain with surprising health advantages.

hummus by Ildi Papp/Shutterstock

1/2 cup hummus hummus hummus hummus hummus hummus hummus hum

Bam! You’ve just received 7.5 grams of fiber in a delicious package. To add a few more grams, top with spinach leaves, cucumber slices, shredded carrots, and a tomato slice. With these easy-to-make hummus recipes, you can always change things up.

beans (bigacis/Shutterstock)

Include beans in at least one meal per day.

They’re high in fiber (15 grams in a cup of black beans) and convenient to use because they’re canned. To remove extra sodium, simply rinse before using. Here are some pointers on how to get your beans:

To make a nice dip, puree a can of cannellini beans. In a blender, combine 2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve with vegetables and whole-grain crackers as a dip.

On a whole-wheat burrito, spread nonfat refried beans and top with chopped chicken and shredded cheese.

Fill your omelet with 1/2 cup black beans and salsa in the morning.

Canned black beans, fresh or frozen corn kernels, chopped cilantro, chopped onion, and chopped tomato combine to make a bean salad side dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and vinegar.

Create your own unique chili pizza. Add kidney beans, shredded cheese, and ground turkey cooked with chili seasonings to a prepared (whole wheat) pizza dough.

As a side dish, start offering edamame (soybeans). 2/3 cup of sweet legumes contains 4 grams of fiber, not to mention the cancer-fighting phytonutrients found in soy. Soy has a lot more advantages than you might think.

Cauliflower by Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Toss mashed potatoes with pureed cauliflower.

Increase your fiber intake without noticing a difference in flavor. Veggies like cauliflower improve satiety, so check out the most filling fruits and vegetables.

© Olha Afanasieva/Shutterstock beetsalad

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. You can even buy beets already roasted in the produce section of your grocery store.

© AS Food studio/Shutterstock ricepudding

Make rice pudding for dessert tonight

Dessert with fiber? Yes, please! Only instead of white rice, use brown. Your family will thank you!

© Glevalex/Shutterstock popcorn

Snack on popcorn

The microwave variety works just fine, but we prefer air-popped popcorn without the oil. Each cup of popcorn delivers 1.2 grams of fiber.

© komkrit Preechachanwate/Shutterstock flour

Switch to whole-wheat flour when baking

You can start by going half and half, eventually using only whole-wheat flour for all your cooking needs. Want to know the real difference between whole wheat and whole grain?

© o.przybysz/Shutterstock flaxseed

Throw some flaxseeds or wheat germ to batter

They add crunch to your cookies, muffins, and breads—and loads of fiber. Learn more about the nutritional benefits of flaxseeds.

© Lamai Prasitsuwan/Shutterstock sweetpotato

Eat the skin of your baked and sweet potatoes

Eating baked potatoes with the skin instead of mashed ups the fiber at least 3 grams (depending on the size of the potato).

© NC 1/Shutterstock mixedgreens

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. Research shows that salad dressing or olive oil helps you absorb the nutrients in greens.

© Barbara Dudzinska/Shutterstock lettuceandtomato

Always add lettuce and tomato slices rather than cheese to sandwiches

Such a simple swap! Not only do they add fiber, but they also reduce calories.

© Petroos/Shutterstock pastaefagioli

Use beans or lentils as your main protein source once or twice a week

Try classic simple entrees such as pasta e Fagioli, bean burritos, lentil soup.

© Ivan Mateev/Shutterstock lentils

Make your fiber sources suit the seasons

A cold lentil salad, or corn and black bean salad in summer, then vegetarian chili in winter. Don’t miss these delicious ways to add beans to your diet.

© Jesus Cervantes/Shutterstock driedfruit

Snack on dried fruit every day

Tasty, chewy, satisfying, easy to eat on the go—and loaded with fiber. Try dried apricots, dates, figs, peaches, pears, and prunes.

© Magdanatka/Shutterstock smoothie

Drink your fiber

Make your own smoothies by blending whole fruits (cut out the big seeds). If everything in the fruit goes into your glass, you’ll get the fiber from the edible peel, often missing from fruit juice. Sneak in some spinach for even more fiber.

© AH86/Shutterstock water

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water

You need water to help the fiber pass through your digestive system without getting, ahem, stuck. So as you’re increasing the fiber in your diet, also increase the amount of water or other unsweetened beverages you’re getting. Also, don’t up your fiber load all at once. That’s just going to overwhelm your system, leading to gas, bloating, and constipation. Instead, start slowly. Try one tip a week for the first couple of weeks, then two, then three. By week four or five, you should be up to the full 25-30 grams—or more. Next, check out these health benefits of drinking water.

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