Though fiber is best known for its magical ability to prevent constipation troubles, there’s a lot more good that fiber can do for you—and these good sources of fiber will help get you there.
Fiber helps lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. It also helps reduce the risk of other diseases like colorectal cancer. Plus, it keeps your blood sugar levels from spiking and makes you feel full longer, which can help you lose weight.
We spoke with Amy Lee M.D., nutritionist and Chief Medical Officer at Lindora Clinic, about the importance of fiber in our diets and why we should be getting more of it. Dr. Lee says that adults in the U.S. are consuming way below the recommended amount of dietary fiber. Studies have shown that this may be because there are commonly held beliefs that all whole-grain foods are good sources of fiber and that foods with fiber are expensive, unpalatable, and complicated to prepare. “This is why we see a lot of medical conditions related to a low fiber diet. Conditions such as diverticulae or colon polyps are a couple of the most common,” adds Dr. Lee.
Fiber is important because “it has health benefits such as lowering your inflammation from the body (foods/preservatives/additives) as well as keeping our bowel movements regular,” Dr. Lee adds.
Luckily, there are plenty of tasty options for good sources of fiber that you can incorporate into your diet with a smile on your face. Hint: prunes and fiber supplements aren’t your only options.
How much fiber do you need?
The current recommendation is 19-38 grams of dietary fiber daily, depending on age and sex, says Dr. Lee. But we know our current US adults are consuming way below the recommended, more likely 7-12 grams.
According to Dr. Lee, the average adult should be eating close to 40 grams if not more.
What are some things to keep in mind when adding fiber to your diet?
“Read labels,” Dr. Lee suggests. “All fiber (in grams) per serving is listed on the label for foods that come in a box and/or bag for the consumer. Count the amount of fiber you are eating daily and try to increase it gradually until you reach 40 grams daily.”
For those who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables; you can google this information, as we know there are no nutrition labels on these items.
Lastly, Dr. Lee recommends that you should titrate your fiber intake slowly and gradually because the bacteria (probiotics) in your gut have to get used to breaking fiber down. Adding too much fiber to your diet too quickly can cause gas and uncomfortable bloating.
Your top good sources of fiber, doctor recommended
The avocado is quite a special fruit. Instead of being high in carbs, it’s loaded with healthy fats. Getting loads of fiber is just another bonus reason to order some avocado toast or guac and chips when you’re out!
Amount of fiber: 5.6 grams per 100 grams or 15.6 grams per cup.
All berries are good for you, but raspberries and blackberries both pack the most fiber. Fresh berries can be expensive, but frozen options are usually more affordable. Try blending these in your next healthy smoothie, like this Berry, Chia, and Mint Smoothie, for that extra dose of fiber.
Amount of fiber: 6.5 grams per 100 grams.
3. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is one of those delicious mysteries that never has to be a guilty pleasure! A higher-percentage of cocoa content in dark chocolate contains a higher concentration of fiber, as well as antioxidants and nutrients, compared to chocolate with a lower cocoa percentage. So, as long as you make sure that you are choosing a dark chocolate with a cocoa content higher than 70%, you can count this sweet treat towards your daily fiber count.
Amount of fiber: 10.5 grams per 100 grams.
Lentils are very inexpensive at the grocery store and they’re packed full of protein and fiber. Mix in lentils with your favorite grain bowl or make a lentil soup to get your digestive system in full swing.
Amount of fiber: 10.7 grams per 100 grams or 20.5 grams per cup.
Almonds are in just about every trail mix or nut assortment you’ve ever had, yet they never disappoint. These popular tree nuts are full of healthy fats and magnesium, as well as fiber.
Amount of fiber: 11 grams per 100 grams or 14.8 grams per cup.
These little legumes are loaded with nutrients, including minerals and protein. Chickpeas form the base of hummus, one of the easiest spreads to make yourself. You can slather it on salads, veggies, pita chips, and more.
Amount of Fiber: 12.2 grams per 100 grams or 24.4 grams per cup.
Oats are one of the healthiest grains in existence. Full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, overnight oats are popular now for a reason! Oats are also the go-to base for all your favorite kinds of granola.
Amount of fiber: 12.9 grams per 100 grams.
Popcorn may be the best snack you can eat when it comes to upping your fiber intake. Who knew you could use fiber as an excuse to go to the movies? However, if you want to avoid the extra fat, skip the butter.
Amount of fiber: 14.5 grams per 100 grams or 1.16 grams per cup.
9. Split peas
Split peas are made from the dried, split, and peeled seeds of peas. They’re often seen in the holiday classic, split pea soup, featuring ham. Or you can try this dip for your next dinner party.
Amount of fiber: 22.2 grams per 100 grams or 43.5 grams per cup.
10. Chia seeds
Chia seeds may be the single best source of fiber on the planet. Not only are they rich in fiber, they also contain high amounts of magnesium and calcium. Throw these seeds into your next smoothie bowl to get enough fiber for the whole day!
Amount of fiber: 34.4 grams per 100 grams.
Who should think twice before adding fiber to their diets?
According to Dr. Lee, you should consult your doctor before increasing your fiber intake if you have a history of irritable bowel syndrome because “there are some foods with a good amount of fiber that could worsen your symptoms”. Also, people who have a history of diverticula(e) have to watch out for certain fiber as it could get trapped and cause further problems.
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