Getting enough fiber is important for your health. It can reduce constipation, help with weight loss and maintenance, Lower cholesterol levels, as well as your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Yet most people aren't getting enough! The Institute of Medicine recommends 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams for women.
Americans average only around 16 grams of fiber per day, which is about half of the recommended amount (1).
Here are 16 ways you can add more fiber to your diet.
1. Eat Whole-Food Carb Sources
Fiber is a type of carb found in plant-based foods.
While most carbs break down into sugar, fiber stays intact as it passes through your digestive system. Eating fiber along with other carbs helps you feel fuller for longer.
It also slows the time it takes digestible carbs to be absorbed into your bloodstream. That helps regulate your blood sugar levels.
Whole-food carb sources all naturally contain fiber. These include fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
BOTTOM LINE: Choosing whole foods ensures you get carbs that have fiber. Select a variety of beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
2. Include Veggies in Meals, and Eat Them First
For a number of reasons, you should eat lots of vegetables. For one thing, they lower your risk of several chronic diseases.
Non-starchy vegetables are particularly low in calories and high in nutrients, including fiber.
Eating your vegetables before a meal is a good strategy for eating more of them.
In one study, women given salad before a meal ate 23% more vegetables than those served salad at the meal itself (2Trusted Source).
Eating salad or vegetable soup before a meal has also been linked to eating fewer calories during a meal (3Trusted Source).
BOTTOM LINE: Eating vegetables before a meal can increase your fiber consumption. Nonstarchy vegetables are a low-calorie, high-fiber choice.
3. Eat Popcorn
Popcorn is one of the best snack foods around.
That's because it's actually a whole grain, delivering four grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams). That's three cups of air-popped popcorn (4).
For the healthiest popcorn, air pop it either in a brown paper bag in the microwave or in an air popper.
BOTTOM LINE: Air-popped popcorn delivers over a gram of fiber per cup. It's a delicious snack food that's also a healthy whole grain.
4. Snack on Fruit
Individual pieces of fruit, such as an apple or pear, make great snacks because they're tasty and portable.
All fruit delivers fiber, although some have significantly more than others.
For instance, one small pear has five grams of fiber, whereas a cup of watermelon has one gram (5, 6).
Berries and apples are other high-fiber fruits.
The fiber from fruit can improve fullness, especially when paired with food that contains fat and/or protein, such as nut butter or cheese.
BOTTOM LINE: Fruit is an excellent snack food. High-fiber fruits include pears, apples and berries.
5. Choose Whole Grains over Refined Grains