The health benefits of a high fiber diet are far reaching and hard to deny. A high fiber diet is thought to be beneficial in managing weight, cholesterol and blood sugar – not to mention a reduction in risk of certain cancers. Let’s also not forget what fiber is best known for – improved gut motility and health. Despite its impressive resume, fiber is still an area in which Americans continue to fall short with an average intake of only 16g of the recommended 25-38 grams of fiber.
Hitting the mark on fiber does not have to be a daunting task. Try the tips below to give your diet a fiber boost:
- Add nuts and seeds:Adding nuts and seeds to meals is such an easy fiber win. Throw some chia seeds or ground flaxseed into your overnight oats (or regular oatmeal) or smoothie. (Bonus: these provide a dose of omega-3 as well). Top salads or veggie sides with a handful of almonds, sunflower seeds or walnuts. You could also take it to the next level and grind up nuts to use as a breading for chicken or fish. There are many options that require so little effort. If you are worried about the calories consider peanut butter powder that provides protein and fiber with less fat than regular peanut butter.
- Use more beans, lentils and legumes:Beans, lentils and legumes is the perfect trifecta of fiber. They are versatile, tasty and inexpensive. Swapping beans for meat is a great way to up the fiber and decrease the fat while saving a bit of money. However, if the meat lover in your house is not willing to go meat free, just add beans along with meat. Other than the nutritional benefits, this will make your meal a protein power house that is more satisfying and will stretch bit further.
- Focus on fruit and vegetables:It is undeniable that there are a lot of benefits to eating more fruits and veggies, yet many struggle to add them into their diet. However, it is easier to sneak more produce in to your meals than you may think. Try tossing a handful of blueberries or raspberries into your cereal or yogurt. Grab a bag of baby carrots or sugar snap peas for an easy on-the-go snack. Steamer bags make it simple to boost veggie servings in your meals. Dried fruits and veggies can be a great snack to have on hand if you are worried about fresh produce spoiling before you eat it.
- Shop for high fiber products:It is no secret that Americans are lacking fiber in their diet, and many companies are responding by providing higher fiber options to help you meet your goal. You can find products like yogurt, pasta, orange juice, and more enhanced with fiber. So the next time you grocery shop, peruse the aisles to see if a higher fiber option is available.
- Try fiber supplements:So, you have increased your fruits and veggies, switched to whole grain, added in nuts and seeds, but still can’t seem to hit the mark? Fiber supplements can be added to drinks or mixed into your meals. There is even a gummy option if you want a little sweet treat with your fiber. Talk with your doctor if you think a supplement may benefit you.
Carolyn Reynaud, MS, RD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to the Calorie Control Council. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.