Fiber improves digestive health, lowers blood cholesterol, helps control blood sugar, and keeps you feeling full. Your options for eating more fiber go beyond whole grains. Here are six ways to boost your fiber intake.
Don't peel it away.
The edible skin of fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, and zucchini contain valuable fiber. A medium raw apple contains 3.7 g of fiber, but if you peel it, you only get 1.7 g of fiber.
Bring on the berries.
Foods with edible seeds provide extra fiber. One cup of fresh raspberries has 8 g of fiber, and one cup of fresh blackberries has 7.6 g of fiber.
Eat your peas.
Split peas have one of the highest fiber contents with 16.3 g in 1 cup of cooked peas. One cup of boiled fresh peas contains 8.8 g of fiber. If you aren’t a fan of peas, try lentils. One cup of cooked lentils has 15.6 g of fiber, and they make a great addition to soups or salads.
Get brave with beans.
Much like split peas and lentils, beans are high in fiber. Get creative and look beyond plain whole beans. One cup of canned chickpeas contains 14 g of fiber, and 1 cup of edamame contains 10 g of fiber. Both can be used to make delicious hummus. One cup of fat-free refried beans contains 12 g of fiber and adds protein to a taco salad. One cup of canned cannellini beans also contains 12 g of fiber, and they can be used as a base for white bean dips.
Sprinkle on nuts and seeds.
A sprinkle of nuts or seeds is a good way to add more fiber to salads, yogurt, and cereals. A quarter cup of sunflower seed kernels has 4 g of fiber. One ounce of almonds (24 nuts) or pecans (19 halves) has 3 g of fiber. Pistachio nuts are not far behind with 2.9 g of fiber in 1 oz (49 nuts).
Cut up some cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale) provide fiber while also supplying phytochemicals that protect against disease. One cup steamed broccoli contains 5.5 g of fiber, and 1 cup boiled Brussels sprouts contains 4.1 g of fiber. Add 1 cup cooked cauliflower to your meal and get 3.3 g of fiber, or choose 1 cup of cooked kale and add 2.6 g of fiber.
You should not feel overwhelmed by trying to get enough fiber. By making healthy choices, you can get all the fiber you need through food. The Mayo Clinic estimates that women should eat at least 21 to 25 grams per day, and men 30 to 38 grams. One cup of raspberries at breakfast and one cup of lentils in a soup for lunch is all a woman needs to meet recommendations for health.