Many Americans aren’t getting enough fiber, an essential nutrient that has many benefits and should be well integrated into our diets. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should aim for 25 grams of fiber daily.
Fiber has many benefits. It keeps us full and satisfied, so we are less likely to unnecessarily snack and overeat, it lowers cholesterol, prevents constipation and helps keep blood sugar within a healthy range.
Fiber is found naturally in many whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, lentils, beans, seeds and whole grains. Eating more of these foods, which are healthy in several ways, will help you soak up the benefits of dietary fiber and boost your overall health.
Try to steer clear of processed or refined foods, which don’t have nearly as much fiber as the whole food source. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has listed some whole foods that are naturally high in fiber:
1 large pear with skin (7 grams)
1 cup fresh raspberries (8 grams)
½ medium avocado (5 grams)
1 ounce almonds (3.5 grams)
½ cup cooked black beans (7.5 grams)
3 cups air-popped popcorn (3.6 grams)
1 cup cooked pearled barley (6 grams)
For breakfast, consider swapping refined cereal, for steel cut oats with nuts and berries. For lunch, make a sandwich using a whole-grain wrap or whole-grain bread and add lots of veggies, or try a side of vegetable soup. For dinner, use whole-grain pasta or brown rice to serve with your entrée.
It’s also important to drink a lot of water while increasing your fiber intake. If you don’t get enough fluid, you may get nauseous or constipated.