Despite its many health benefits, most of the population doesn’t seem to be eating enough dietary fiber. But why is fiber so important, and how can you make sure you're getting enough?
"Fiber aids in the reduction of total and LDL cholesterol by binding to cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract and moving it out of circulation,” It has also been proven to reduce the body's blood sugar response to certain foods, increase mineral absorption, and improve feelings of satiety. Plus, it helps your digestion run smoothly.
The recommended intake is 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams per day for women.
In order to fill what nutritionists call "the fiber gap," consider adding these foods to your diet.
Start your morning off with 1 cup of oats, and you're already at 8 grams of fiber. Add blueberries or strawberries to the mix for an added boost.
Barley is a type of grain, commonly used as a base for grain bowls. If you're able to tolerate gluten, eating 1 cup of cooked barley will give you about 6 grams of fiber.
Quinoa is a whole grain, which means it's naturally high in fiber. White is the most common, and it contains about 4 grams of fiber per cup.
It contains 13.5 grams of total dietary fiber. Eat it on its own with sea salt and red pepper or mash it on top of whole wheat bread for extra fiber.
One medium apple contains over 4 grams of fiber.
Blackberries and raspberries both provide about 8 grams of fiber per cup, while blueberries provide 4 grams.
One medium-size pear contains more than 5 grams of fiber.
The fiber content in prunes helps relieve constipation. Eating three or four prunes at a time provides about 2 grams of fiber.
Just 1 cup of guava contains 9 grams of fiber and about 377 mg of vitamin C.
Since bananas are berries, it's no surprise they're also high in fiber. Eating one medium-sized banana increases your fiber intake by about 3 grams.
Kale is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and K, and can also add to your fiber intake. Eating 2 cups of baby kale provides nearly 3 grams of fiber.
One cup of broccoli florets contains about 5 grams of fiber.
Just like broccoli, Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous veggie high in healthy sulfur and fiber (3 grams per cup).
One small head of cauliflower contains 5 grams of dietary fiber, or about 20%.
Surprisingly enough, artichokes are one of the highest sources of fiber from a vegetable. One artichoke contains almost 7 grams of fiber.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can promote gut health and regular digestion. Eating one sweet potato with the skin on provides almost 6 grams of fiber.
One cup of lentils contains 15 grams of fiber—a high percentage of that comes from prebiotic, soluble fiber to help support a healthy gut.
Split peas are like lentils, but they're grown from a different plant: the field pea. One cup of cooked split peas contains 16 grams of dietary fiber.
The legumes provide high amounts of plant-based protein and fiber—10 grams per cup.
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a good source of the minerals manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and potassium. They contain 9 grams of fiber per serving.
Another good source of plant-based protein and fiber are lima beans—1 cup of boiled lima beans contains 15 grams of protein and almost 14 grams of dietary fiber.
Not only are almonds rich in protein (6 grams), but 1 ounce of almonds also contains 4 grams of fiber.
Just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contain more than 9 grams of fiber. Adding these high-fiber seeds to your oatmeal or smoothie is a simple way to up your fiber intake first thing in the morning.
Enjoy sunflower seeds as a tasty snack or on top of creamy soups. One cup contains 12 grams of fiber.