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Eat More Fiber and Boost Your Health!

This blog post written by University of Illinois dietetic intern, Kirsten Berding Harold.

Did you know that less than 3% of Americans get enough fiber in their diets? It is recommended that women eat 25 grams of fiber per day and men 38 grams. On average, Americans only eat about 50% of the amount of recommended fiber per day.

Eating enough fiber each day has benefits for your overall health.

How can you eat that much fiber?

Eating a balanced and colorful diet, making half your grains whole grains, and aiming for 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day is the easiest way to reach your daily fiber goal.

A word of advice: When eating more fiber, increase intake gradually and make sure that you drink plenty of water to keep things moving and prevent bloating or stomach pain.

Health benefits of fiber:

  • Keep you feeling full longer
  • Achieve or maintain a healthy weight
  • Help maintain a healthy digestive system
  • May help lower cholesterol
  • Help manage blood sugar levels
  • Reduce risk for developing high blood pressure, heart disease and certain digestive diseases

 

Fiber rich foods: 

  • Berries (Raspberries, Strawberries, etc.)
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Whole wheat products
  • Split peas
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Artichokes
  • Collard greens
  • Carrots

 

Check food labels!

Dietary fiber is included under the Carbohydrates section of the Nutrition Facts panel. Choose products with at least 2 g of fiber per serving.

Easy ways that you can boost your fiber:

  • Choose whole grain or whole wheat over white bread products
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. You do not have to eat them raw. Include them in smoothies, soups or add pureed vegetables to your sauces or stews.
  • Leave skin on your fruit such as apples and pears. This part of the fruit is often the highest in fiber.
  • Sprinkle seeds (such as flax seeds) in your morning cereal, on your oatmeal, smoothies, baked goods or yogurt.

 

Here is a example of a day that has 25 grams of fiber: 

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal (1 cup) topped with half a cup of berries (6g of fiber) 
  • Morning snack: 1 orange and handful of almonds (4g of fiber)
  • Lunch: Turkey sandwich on 2 slices of whole wheat bread, with tomatoes and lettuce (5g of fiber)
  • Afternoon snack: ¼ cup of Hummus with vegetables (5g of fiber)
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken with 1 cup of broccoli and ½ sweet potato (6g of fiber)
  • Snack: 3 cups popcorn (3.5g fiber) 

 

Great recipes with fiber rich ingredients:

Breakfast Smoothie (add ground flaxseed to increase fiber)

Veggie Stuffed Pita (use whole wheat pitas)

Chicken Parmesan with Side Salad (use whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread crumbs)