If there’s one thing people should focus on getting more of in their diet, it’s fiber. Only about 5% of Americans are getting the recommended daily amount of fiber (25 grams for women and 38 grams for men). This is due in part to both not eating enough whole foods and eating too many processed foods. Avoiding carbs has also played a role in this, as foods like whole-grain pasta and bread provide fiber alongside the carbs we’ve been told to avoid.
Fiber does more than simply support your digestion. It helps you feel more full so you don’t eat as much and also helps support normal, healthy blood sugar levels. Fiber is the superfood no one is talking about. Even better, it’s not hard to get more of it in our diets.
No matter where you live, you should have easy access to plenty of fiber sources nearby. Keep an eye out for these foods the next time you make a trip to the grocery store or farmers market.
1. Apples and pears
These fruits are fairly easy to come by and they taste good on their own or in salads. Eat them with skin on for maximum benefits.
Legumes are some of the highest-fiber foods out there, and are a good source of plant-based protein, too. Beans come in a variety of types and flavors, so you can add them to anything from salads to burritos to soups.
Whole grains, especially oats, are among the healthiest grains available, and not just because of their high fiber content. If you want to start your day off on the right foot, make yourself a bowl of oatmeal.
Broccoli is stuffed full of nutrients, including vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, potassium—and fiber, of course. It can be eaten on its own or added to salads, dipped in your favorite dressing, or baked into casseroles.
5. Any other vegetable
If broccoli isn’t your favorite, don’t worry—virtually any vegetable will do if your goal is to up your fiber intake. Kale, spinach, tomatoes, beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and celery are just a few good high-fiber options.
Avocados are trendy for a reason. They’re full of healthy fats and other nutrients, and are versatile enough to be used in dressings, on toast, in sandwiches, and even in smoothies.
If you’re looking for a burst of sweetness alongside your fiber, berries—especially strawberries and raspberries—are a good choice. They make an extra special treat when they’re in season, so don’t be afraid to indulge a little during the summer.
Many use quinoa as a substitute for another grain, like rice or pasta. It works great in salads, too.
9. Trail mix
Trail mixes can include just about any bite-sized goody you want, but most of them are full of nuts, seeds, and dry fruit. All of which are high in fiber. Look for mixes that don’t have too much added salt or sugar, or make your own at home!
Popcorn is a good snack as well, as long as it’s plain and not loaded with salt and butter. Popcorn is good to keep on hand for when you’re short on time but needing something to stave off hunger.
11. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are high in fiber, and you can have some fun with them too. They’re easy to mix into jams, smoothies, baked goods, and other foods, or you can enjoy them on their own.
Before you start adding more fiber to all of your meals, keep in mind that suddenly consuming more fiber can cause gastrointestinal problems like indigestion, bloating, and constipation. So if fiber isn’t something you’re used to getting a lot of, increase your intake slowly. For example, you could start with oatmeal for breakfast, then start munching on apples for your afternoon snacks the next week, then focus on working more vegetables into your dinners the week after that. However you decide to add more fiber to your diet, remember that slow and steady wins the race.
When diet isn’t enough
It can be overwhelming to get all the fiber we need from diet alone. Once you factor in our busy lifestyles, it can seem impossible. Fortunately, you can fill in the gaps with a fiber supplement like LiFiber or Balance. Both provide fiber and support your overall health.
Want to dig a little deeper into the science behind fiber? Check out this Q&A with one of our Unicity scientists.