Fitting in the Fiber: It’s Easier Than You Think

The USDA reports that the average American gets less than half the daily fiber they need.

Woman Drinking Smoothie
Woman Drinking Smoothie

Here's a fact you can chew on: The USDA recommends you consume between 21 and 38 grams of fiber per day.1* To put that into perspective, there are three grams of fiber in a whole wheat bagel, two grams of fiber in a serving of green beans, and four grams of fiber in your average pear—if you leave the skin on.2

The problem, the USDA reports, is that the average American gets less than half the fiber they need.3 That's right: Despite research showing that certain types of fiber can increase satiety, help promote good digestive health, and even support healthy cholesterol levels, we're just not consuming enough of the stuff.4

Why? Simple: Most of us—with our hectic schedules, our poorly planned shopping lists, and our knack for grabbing treats instead of sitting down for meals—aren't eating the right foods. We know we could use more fiber; we're just too busy and too distracted to make it a priority.

Let's put an end to that right now. Three helpful ways to increase your daily fiber intake :

1. Get back to basics.

You've heard it before and you'll hear it again—the path to a healthy diet is paved with whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. The same is true for a diet rich in fiber. So load up on vegetables like broccoli and kale, reach for an apple when it comes time to snack, and serve up soups stocked with lentils or beans.2 Instead of white bread, choose whole grain varieties.5 And instead of chips, choose high-fiber nuts like cashews, pistachios, and pecans. A good rule of thumb: Unprocessed foods are high-fiber foods , while their processed counterparts generally are not.6

2. Map out your meals.

Pick one day each week to sit down and build a high-fiber shopping list. Check your fridge for fruits and vegetables and restock as necessary. Plan each meal around a central item that comes packed with fiber—brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or a simple green salad are all good options.6 Bonus: When you shop in advance you'll be less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks as the week unfolds.

3. Take a fiber supplement.

This one is easy. Fiber supplements like Benefiber® contain three grams of fiber per serving, which means it provides about as much fiber as a baked potato or a handful of almonds.2 Fiber supplements are especially useful when you can't find time to cook. Add some to your cereal and you'll be well on your way to a fiber-filled day.

*According to the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that, in adults 50 or younger, women should consume 25 grams of fiber daily and men 38 grams. In adults 51 or older, women should consume 21 grams of fiber daily and men 30 grams.

Show ReferencesHide References

  1. "Fiber: Daily Recommendations for Adults." Mayo Clinic. 22 Sept. 2015. Web. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983?pg=2.
  2. "Basic Report: Food Search." National Nutrient Database. United States Department of Agriculture, Web. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list.
  3. Hoy, M. Katherine, and Joseph D. Goldman. "Fiber Intake of the U.S. Population." What We Eat in America(2014): 223-38. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sept. 2014. Web. https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400530/pdf/dbrief/12_fiber_intake_0910.pdf.
  4. Burton-Freeman, Britt. "Dietary Fiber and Energy Regulation." The Journal of Nutrition. 1 Feb. 2000. Web. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/2/272S.full.pdf+html.
  5. "Whole Grains and Fiber." American Heart Association. 11 Oct. 2016. Web. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Whole-Grains-and-Fiber_UCM_303249_Article.jsp#.WO-UNrbyuYV.
  6. Robinson, Lawrence, and Robert Segal. "High-Fiber Foods." Helpguide.org. Apr. 2017. Web. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/high-fiber-foods.htm.
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