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10 ways to get more fiber in your diet – Eat this, not that

Most of us need to eat more fiber. More than 90% of women and 97% of men do not meet the amount recommended for good health, according to the US government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. One reason may be that dietary fiber is hard to find, especially in highly processed foods, like fast food, which make up a large part of the standard American diet.

You can make it much easier to meet your fiber quota by switching away from processed foods and toward a variety of whole foods. But if you specifically want to know where most dietary fiber can be found, read on and note these easy and tasty ways to sneak more of this disease-preventing nutrient into your meals and snacks.

Why do you need more fiber?

You probably know from experience that eating more fiber means you don’t have to worry about getting constipated. Your stools are larger, softer and easier to pass. And you’ve probably heard that fiber helps lower total cholesterol levels by lowering the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

But fiber also helps control blood sugar levels and helps you maintain a healthy weight. It’s also important for your gut health and reduces chronic inflammation and lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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How much fiber do you need per day?

“30 grams of fiber per day is a great general health goal to reach for adults,” says Eat this, not that! Medical Review Board member and registered dietitian Julie Upton. “Most people only eat about 15 grams a day … and a good rule of thumb when comparing fiber amounts in packaged foods found on nutrition labels is that if a food has 3 grams or more of fiber, it’s the better choice, ” says Upton.

To meet this recommended amount of daily fiber, here are some sneaky ways to make it happen.

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One thing you can do is start each morning with a piece of fruit. Try an apple or a handful of berries, or combine fruit with another fiber-rich breakfast like oatmeal for a double shot of fiber. Eat eggs instead? “Add sliced ​​oranges to the side of your scrambled eggs,” suggests Eat this, not that! Medical board member Lauren Manaker, MS, RDNa registered dietitian nutritionist and author of The first-time mom’s pregnancy cookbook. “There are tons of creative ways to enjoy fruit in the morning”

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Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which lowers blood sugar levels to avoid type 2 diabetes and improve overall metabolic health, according to a study in Journal of Functional Foods. But let’s say you can’t stand the taste and texture of hot oatmeal in the morning. Do you like muffins? Muffins made with rolled or steel-cut oats provide fiber in a satisfying gastronomic vehicle that pairs well with coffee. Make it even healthier by adding apple and cinnamon, like this Apple Cinnamon Oat Muffins recipe from A Healthy Slice of Life does.

cooked red lentil pasta with cherry tomatoes
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Do you go back for seconds after eating a plate of spaghetti? Or do you feel hungry half an hour after you finish? This is because typical pasta is made from white flour where all the fibers have been removed through processing. In fact, eating it can raise your blood sugar almost as quickly as downing a sugary soda does.

The solution is to choose pasta made from wholemeal flour, says Eat this, not that! Medical Review Board member and registered dietitian Amy Goodson, MS, RD. You can find several brands at your local grocery store. Read ingredient lists and look for pasta made with lentils, chickpeas, pea protein, spelled and barley. A popular brand Goodson recommends is Banza Pasta, made from chickpea flour, which provides 5 grams of satiating fiber per serving.

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Even plain pasta that doesn’t contain fiber can be made healthier by sneaking fiber into the sauce you put on top. Add any chopped vegetables to your jar or homemade sauce to introduce a healthy dose of dietary fiber. Or add lentils, white beans or kidney beans. Just one cup of these will contribute 5 to 20 grams of fiber to the dish.

RELATED: Dangerous Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Fiber

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Head out to an orchard or local farm to pick your own fiber. In the fall you must pick a bushel of apples, or in the summer you must pick raspberries or blueberries. Fresh-picked wild blueberries beat store-bought wild blueberries because “they have more fiber and a little less sugar than conventional blueberries,” says Upton.

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We’re talking about sweet, chewy prunes. There is a reason why prunes are always on the menu in hospitals. The 3 grams of fiber patients get in a serving of 5 prunes can help them bring their bowels back to regularity.

RELATED: 5 Best High-Fiber Breakfasts to Try When You’re Tired of Oatmeal

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“One of my favorite ways to get more fiber is by adding pears to smoothies, munching on them as a grab-and-go snack, or mixing sliced ​​pears into salads,” says Eat this, not that! Medical assessment board member Toby Amidor, MS, RD.

Pears are one of the best fruit sources of fiber, with a medium-sized pear providing 21% of the recommended daily intake. “The soluble fiber in pears can reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer,” says Amidor. Try tossing slices or chunks of pears into salads like Amidor’s Lighter Waldorf Pear Salad, or add them to a muffin batter like in this recipe for Pear Pumpkin Seed Muffins.

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Grab a good flick at the local multiplex and sneak in a bag of homemade popcorn. “Popcorn is a healthy whole grain,” says Upton. “You get 3.5 grams of fiber in a 3-cup serving of air-popped popcorn.”

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Stomach growling at work? Reach into your desk for a bag of dry roasted almonds (14.8 grams of fiber per cup) or walnuts (8.5 grams). Also, keep a container of chia seeds to throw into smoothies, yogurt, salads and more. One tablespoon of chia seeds contains 6 grams of fiber.

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A very simple way to get more soluble fiber into your diet is by drinking it. Mix some psyllium husk powder into a tall glass of water, orange juice or other beverage and drink up. Psyllium husk, the key ingredient in Metamucil, is a plant fiber supplement clinically shown to be effective for chronic constipation, ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome, according to a report in the journal Nutrition today.

Psyllium, which turns into a gel in your small intestine, slows the absorption of nutrients and sugar, improves blood sugar control, and reduces hunger, which can result in weight loss and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. And the soluble fiber is known to lower LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol without affecting the good HDL cholesterol. You can find different types of psyllium products in powders, tablets, and even gummies at your pharmacy.

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