6 Foods and Tips for More Fiber

Experts say we need 25 grams of fiber a day on a 2000-calorie diet. How can we possibly eat that much? Here's how!

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

We all know fiber is good for us. Not only can dietary fiber lower cholesterol, it also helps keep us trim and feeling full.

So how do you get more fiber into your daily diet? Here are six painless ways to work in 25 grams a day - the recommended amount for someone eating 2,000 calories a day.

Before you start, keep a few things in mind: When you increase fiber, you should increase your water intake along with it. Add fiber gradually to give your gastrointestinal tract time to adapt. And if you have gastrointestinal diseases, including constipation, check with your doctor first.

1. Go for whole grains whenever possible. Check the ingredient list to make sure the whole grain is the first or second ingredient on the list. Products that say "100% wheat" or "multigrain" are not usually whole grain.

  • 2 slices of whole-wheat bread = 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice = 4 grams of fiber
  • Reduced-Fat Triscuit crackers = 3 grams

2. Choose the right breakfast cereals. Some cereals have little whole grain. And some whole grain cereals are loaded with unnecessary sugar.

  • ½ cup Fiber One = 14 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup Raisin Bran = 7.5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup Frosted Shredded Wheat Spoon Size = 5 grams
  • 1 cup Quaker Squares Baked in Cinnamon = 5 grams
  • ¾ cup cooked oatmeal = 3 grams
    *Recommended serving sizes.

3. Eat beans a few times a week. Beans offer more fiber than most plant foods, plus they're loaded with healthy plant protein.

  • 1 cup of canned minestrone soup = about 5 grams fiber
  • 1/2 cup vegetarian or fat-free refried beans, used to make microwave nachos = about 6 grams
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans, added to a green salad = 3 grams fiber
  • Bean burrito at Taco Bell (or made at home) = 8 grams

4. Have several servings of fruit every day. You can add it to your morning meal, enjoy it as a snack, and garnish your dinner plate with it. Or have it with - or instead of - dessert.

  • 1 large apple = 4 grams of fiber
  • 1 banana = 3 grams
  • 1 pear = 4 grams
  • 1 cup strawberries = 4 grams

5. Every day, stir a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into your smoothie, soup, casserole, etc. One tablespoon will boost your daily fiber by 3 grams. Flaxseed contains a balance of soluble and insoluble fiber, too.

6. Have several servings of vegetables every day. Include a vegetable with lunch, have raw veggies as an afternoon snack or pre-dinner appetizer, and enjoy a big helping with dinner. Make a point of enjoying vegetarian entrees several times a week.

  • 1 cup carrot slices, cooked = 5 grams of fiber
  • 1 cup cooked broccoli = 4.5 grams
  • 1 cup raw carrots = 4 grams
  • 1 sweet potato = 4 grams
  • 1 cup cauliflower, cooked = 3 grams
  • 2 cups raw spinach leaves = 3 grams

Medically Updated May 19, 2006.


SOURCES: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, September 2005. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2002, March 2003, November 2003, December 2003, and August 2004. American Heart Journal, July 2005. U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database. ESHA Food Processor II. Barbara Rolls, PhD, author, The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan and The Volumetrics Eating Plan; and professor, nutritional sciences, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa. Joanne Slavin, PhD, RD, nutrition researcher, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn. Megan McCrory, PhD, research associate professor, School of Nutrition and Exercise Science, Bastyr University, Kenmore, Wash. American Dietetic Association.

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