Getting enough fiber is important for your health.
Furthermore, some types of fiber are prebiotic — meaning they promote healthy gut bacteria — and may be beneficial for digestive health (
Yet most people aren’t getting enough fiber.
It’s recommended that women aim for 25 grams daily and men 38 grams (6).
Americans average only around 16 grams of fiber per day, which is less than the recommended amount (1).
Here are 16 ways you can add more fiber to your diet.
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. This contributes to helping you feel fuller for longer when eating fiber along with other carbs (
Whole-food carb sources all naturally contain fiber. These include fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Choosing whole foods ensures you get carbs that have fiber. Select a variety of beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
For a number of reasons, you should eat lots of vegetables. For one thing, they can 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 20 minutes before a meal ate 23% more vegetables than those served salad at the meal itself (
Eating salad or vegetable soup before a meal has also been linked to eating fewer calories during a meal (
Eating vegetables before a meal can increase your fiber consumption. Non-starchy vegetables are a low calorie, high fiber choice.
Popcorn is one of the best snack foods around.
That’s because it’s actually a whole grain, delivering 4 grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams). That’s 3 cups of air-popped popcorn (
For the lowest calorie popcorn, air pop it either in a brown paper bag in the microwave or in an air popper. For added flavor without added fat or calories, sprinkle it with cinnamon, and if you like things spicy, a little cayenne pepper.
Air-popped popcorn delivers over a gram of fiber per cup. It’s a delicious snack food that’s also a healthy whole grain.
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.
The fiber from fruit can improve fullness, especially when paired with food that contains fat and protein, such as nut butter or cheese.
Fruit is an excellent snack food. High fiber fruits include pears, apples, and berries.
Whole grains are minimally processed, leaving the whole grain intact.
In contrast, refined grains have been stripped of their vitamin-containing germ and fiber-rich bran.
This makes the grain last longer but also takes away the most nutritious parts, leaving only a fast-absorbing carb.
Try replacing at least half of the refined grains in your diet with whole grain versions. In addition to oatmeal or brown rice, try (
Whole grains have the germ and bran intact, making them more nutritious than refined grains.
It’s best to get your nutrition — including fiber — from food. But if your fiber intake is low, you might consider taking a supplement.
A few types of supplements have research to back them up:
- Guar fiber: As a supplement, guar fiber may improve fullness and lower your overall calorie intake. It’s also used in processed foods to improve texture (
- Psyllium: This is the key ingredient in Metamucil, a popular fiber supplement used for constipation. In one study, psyllium was also shown to decrease hunger between meals (18).
- Glucomannan: This fiber is added to some low fat dairy products to improve texture, and it’s the main ingredient in no-calorie shirataki noodles. As a supplement, it increases fullness and reduces appetite (
- β-glucans: This type of fiber is found in oats and barley. It’s fermented in the gut and acts as a prebiotic to support the healthy microorganisms that live there (
However, supplements have two main drawbacks.
First, they can cause stomach discomfort and bloating. To reduce this, introduce a fiber supplement gradually and drink plenty of water.
Second, these supplements can interfere with the absorption of certain medications. So, if you’re currently taking any medications, speak to a healthcare professional before taking a fiber supplement.
There are several promising fiber supplements on the market. However, you probably don’t need a supplement if you eat a range of whole plant foods.
Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses.
These small seeds gel in water and are up to 93% insoluble fiber (
Flax seeds are another high fiber choice, providing 2 grams per tablespoon.
Chia seeds deliver insoluble fiber, which promotes normal digestion and may lower your risk of diabetes.
Proponents of juicing say juice — especially cold-pressed veggie juice — is a good way to incorporate a lot of vegetables into your diet.
Indeed, juice can have high amounts of micronutrients.
Yet even unpasteurized, cold-pressed juices have been stripped of fiber, leaving only a concentration of carbs, specifically in the form of sugar.
While vegetable juices have less sugar than fruit juices, they have far less fiber than you get from eating whole vegetables. Though you can enjoy drinking 100% fruit and vegetable juices in moderation, eating the whole fruit allows you to reap the most benefits.
Eating fruits and vegetables in whole form, rather than juice, ensures that you get more fiber and less sugar.
Avocados are incredibly nutritious fruits.
The creamy, green flesh is not only rich in healthy, monounsaturated fatty acids — it’s also packed with fiber.
In fact, half an avocado delivers 5 grams of fiber (
You can use an avocado instead of butter, or use it to top salads and other dishes.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats and fiber. They’re a healthy alternative to many other types of fat.
Nuts and seeds provide protein, fat, and fiber.
What’s more, nuts and seeds are versatile foods. They’re shelf-stable and nutrient-dense, making them ideal snacks to have on hand.
You can also use them in recipes to add extra nutrition and fiber to your meals.
Seeds and nuts provide protein, healthy fats, and fiber. They’re ideal for snacking or adding to recipes.
When baking, choose a flour that will add extra nutrition to muffins, breads, and other baked goods.
Some alternative flours are even richer in fiber.
Replace all-purpose flour with alternatives. These include whole wheat flour and flours made from nuts, coconut, and other whole grains.
Berries with seeds are among the most fiber-rich fruits.
Berries also tend to have less sugar than other fruits.
Add berries to cereal and salads, or pair them with yogurt for a healthy snack. Frozen and fresh berries are equally healthy.
Berries are among the most high fiber, low sugar fruits. Use them fresh or frozen.
Legumes — that is, beans, dried peas, and lentils — are an important part of many traditional diets.
They’re very rich in fiber, as well as protein, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.
In fact, a cup of cooked beans can deliver up to about 50% of your daily fiber needs (
Replacing meat with legumes in a few meals per week is linked to an increased life span and a decreased risk of several chronic diseases. Their positive impact on the gut microbiome may be partially responsible for these benefits (
There are several ways to increase legume consumption:
- Use hummus and other bean dips.
- Add mashed or whole beans to ground beef dishes.
- Top salads with cooked beans or lentils.
Beans are highly nutritious foods that may reduce the risk of chronic disease. They provide protein and high amounts of fiber.
When you peel fruits and vegetables, you often remove half the fiber.
The kind of fiber found in the peel of fruits and vegetables is generally insoluble fiber.
Fruit and vegetable peels are rich in fiber. Peels provide roughage needed for healthy digestion and preventing constipation.
Whole plant foods are the ideal way to get fiber. However, if you’re going to eat processed foods, you may as well choose products that are rich in fiber.
Some foods — including yogurt, granola bars, cereals, and soups — may have functional fibers added to them.
These are extracted from natural sources and then added to foods as a supplement.
Common names you can look for on food labels are inulin and polydextrose.
When shopping processed foods, check the ingredient list for fiber. Also, check the nutrition label for the grams of fiber per serving.
Spread your fiber intake throughout the day. Focus on eating high fiber foods at each meal, including snacks.
Here’s an example of how to make high fiber choices throughout the day:
- Breakfast: Choose a high fiber cereal or oatmeal, and add berries and seeds.
- Snack: Pair raw vegetables with bean dip, or raw fruit with nut butter.
- Lunch: Have a salad. If you make a sandwich, choose 100% whole grain bread.
- Dinner: Add beans and other vegetables to casseroles and stews. Try a variety of cooked whole grains.
Including a higher fiber food at every meal is one simple way to increase your fiber intake.