Delicious Ways to Increase Fiber

Fiber is one of the easiest nutrients to incorporate into your diet, and one of the most important. However, many Americans don’t get the much needed 25 to 30 grams recommended daily for a healthy diet.

Many breads are packed with fiber—after all, just ½ cup of whole wheat flour packs more than 7 grams. Look for the words "stone ground whole wheat" at the top of the ingredients list, but remember to read those nutritional labels carefully.

Just because a loaf of bread claims to be "whole grain" or "wheat" doesn’t mean it includes a healthy dose of fiber in the package. Many of those eye-catching labels will reveal only 1 gram of dietary fiber, meaning that the bread is made mostly from white flour, not whole wheat.

Whole grain cereals and bran flakes are usually jam-packed with fiber—about 5 grams in one, three quarter cup serving!  If you’re having a hard time swallowing these healthier varieties, try adding a little sweetness with fresh fruit, vanilla soy milk, a touch of honey, or a sugar-free sweetener.

Beans and legumes are always a healthy choice, usually containing 6-7 grams of fiber per half cup serving . Plus, you can easily add them to just about any meal. Heated as a side, in soups or chili, added to salads, or in place of meat in a main dish, beans have a healthy combination of fiber, protein, and healthy fat that keeps you feeling fuller longer.

One cup of fresh red raspberries holds a whopping 8 grams of fiber and blackberries are close behind at about 7.5 grams. Pears, prunes, and apples all measure up at about 4 grams of fiber per serving.

Vegetables are a little lower on the totem pole for fiber, but still a great source. A half cup of Acorn squash and  a half cup of artichoke hearts provide about 4.5 grams of fiber, and a baked potato (with the skin) comes in at just fewer than 4 grams. Get 2 grams of fiber in a serving of broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, green beans, spinach, lettuce, or tomatoes.

Fiber supplements come in capsules, and drink mixes. These will usually range from about 4-10 grams of fiber per serving. But fiber supplements, like vitamins, do not replace your body’s need for healthy foods.

Try these tips for added fiber-

Choose fresh fruit and/or vegetables over juice.

Eat the skin of cleaned fruits and vegetables.

Include bran and whole grain breads daily.

Drink more water to accommodate your increased fiber intake to reduce indigestion.

Eat less processed foods and more whole foods.

Try to meet your fiber requirements with foods rather than supplements.

A large increase in fiber over a short period of time could result in bloating, diarrhea, gas, and all-around discomfort. It is better to add fiber to your diet gradually over a recommended period of about three weeks, to avoid abdominal problems.

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