According to the American Diabetic Association, most Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diets. The daily recommended intake is 20-30 grams each day, but if you’re like many others, you may only get about half that.
Everyone says you should get more fiber in your diet, but how? And more importantly, why do we need fiber?
Fiber is known to help in the prevention of cancers, heart disease and even diabetes. It can also help in weight regulation, reduce cholesterol and constipation. In short, it’s an important part of a healthy diet and long life.
Fiber is found only in plant-based foods and because many diets are focused on meats and refined carbohydrates, it’s no wonder that many diets lack it. While not all plant-based foods are equal in their fiber content, here are some foods high in dietary fiber:
• Apples, pears, bananas and raspberries.
• Bran cereal, whether it’s oat, wheat, rice or corn
• Oats, flax seeds
• Lentils; navy, white, kidney and black beans.
• Cocoa powder and dark chocolate
• Almonds, pistachios and pecans
• Avocado, kale, peas, winter squash and many other vegetables
Of course, it’s easy to say which foods are high in fiber, but how can you make sure that your diet is rich in fiber? Here are some approaches that might help:
• If you enjoy breakfast cereals, focus on bran cereals or grab yourself a nice comforting bowl of oatmeal.
• Add bran and flax seeds to baked goods like muffins, loaves and even cakes.
• Flax seed is also easily and discretely added to smoothies, yogurt and even soups.
• Oats can also be added to cookies, muffins and other baked goods.
• Juicing removes the fiber from the fruit. Make a point of eating fresh, whole fruits regularly.
• Fill your plate with vegetables before adding proteins and other carbohydrates.
• Speaking of carbohydrates, focus on unrefined carbs and forgo the refined flour and rice.
• Go meatless and eat more beans. They’re delicious and good for you.
• Eat more salad and fewer French fries. Pre-cut salad ingredients and keep them in your fridge for easy access.
• Keep a well-stocked veggie plate in your fridge at all times. You’re more likely to grab it if it’s all ready for you.
• Keep skins on vegetables, where possible. The most fiber is often found near the skin.
• Nuts are a satisfying snack that gives you a nutrition boost.
• Instead of sugary desserts, try a fruit salad to satisfy a sweet tooth
• Enjoy a little dark chocolate now and then. You deserve it.
• Read the label. When it comes to packaged foods, find the one with the most dietary fiber and nutritional value for you.
While it isn’t usually necessary to count the grams of your dietary fiber intake, focus on increasing the amount of unrefined plant-based foods in your diet. More plant-based foods not only means increased fiber, but more vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, so indulge to your heart’s content.