You’ve probably heard: Most of us need to eat more fiber. American adults consume an average of 10 to 15 grams per day. This, when the recommended daily amount to help prevent disease and promote good health is more than 25 grams.
Fiber, also known as “roughage,” keeps our bowels moving and our bowels healthy. It also helps regulate cholesterol and blood sugar. So, what gives? Why are we not eating enough? Blame our love affair with processed foods.
Where is the fiber found? In vegetables, legumes, fruits and grains. Sit back, we’ll blow you away with everything you need to boost your diet with fiber. Warning: take it easy if you are a fiber beginner. Too much too quickly can cause gas, bloating, and even constipation if you don’t stay hydrated.
1. Split peas
Say hello to that silent superstar legume – split pea. Split peas are very high in fiber – 16.3 grams per cup, cooked. But they’re also high in carbs at 41 grams per cup and easy to eat too quickly.
So, treat them as a side dish like dhal, or a starter like soup for a meal that also contains healthy fats. Hearty and filling enough to keep a vegetarian going, this split pea soup is easy to prepare.
Yellow split peas add color to this South Asian riff on comfort food, lentil and spinach soup. Seasoned with healthy spices, turmeric, cilantro, ginger and chili peppers. And it’s over with ghee, yum.
Keep a bag of lentils – brown or green – in your pantry and you’ll never go hungry. These kitchen stars cook in minutes – and they don’t need a pre-soak! One cup contains 15.6 grams of fiber.
And of course, you can turn lentils into a funky salad (just mix warm, cooked lentils in a little lemon juice and olive oil), but the classics are classics for a reason. Try this ham and lentil soup, full of carrots, onions and celery.
Want more of a burger than a soup? This Lentil Quinoa Burgers with Sautéed Mushroom recipe turns lentils into a juicy burger patty, seasoned with garlic, cumin, and lemon, and topped with mushroom sauce.
3. Black beans
When corn comes in season in the summer, black bean salad is what you want. Too good with anything cooked on the grill.
But in winter, we use them in this vegetarian black bean and sweet potato chili. You can imagine, can’t you, the sweetness and comforting carbs against the smoky heat of chipotle peppers?
Oh, and black beans have 15 grams of fiber per cup and are great sources of folate, manganese, and thiamine, nutrients that will make you feel great.
4. Lima beans
Let’s be honest. Limas are one of the most hated vegetables. This is probably because many of us grew up pushing boiled frozen limas under a lettuce leaf.
But we have news, folks. Limas must be cooked with bacon! These starchy babies need help. Like this easy Texas bacon lima recipe, which brings out their creamy tenderness and seasons them really well, all of you.
In this leek and lima bean soup with bacon, the beans and leeks are sautéed in bacon fat, simmered in chicken broth, then mashed into a naturally creamy soup.
These recipes make limas so delicious that we’re going to start calling them by their old-fashioned name, “butter beans”. With 13.2 grams of fiber per cup, we’re starting to like butter beans!
It is a bizarre-looking vegetable, covered with leathery, thorny leaves. No wonder most of us don’t make them at home and order them from restaurants as soon as we get the chance. But we’ve found a way to have them whenever we want. Buy a bag of frozen artichoke hearts.
Turns out it’s easy to whip up our favorite Italian appetizer of crispy artichokes with garlic and lemon.
And this classic whole French artichoke with mustard vinaigrette recipe makes it ridiculously easy and delicious to get 10.3 grams of fiber.
6. Green peas
The easiest way to cook peas is to simmer them in a little salted water, until tender, about 5 minutes. Fresh mint is great with peas, as are onions and ham.
Mashing vegetables to create a base for the main protein makes them more special. This seared scallops and mashed peas recipe takes 15 minutes to prepare. And with 8.8 grams of fiber per cup, it’s high in vitamins A and C.
Another controversial vegetable, broccoli is so healthy it’s worth working on a relationship. Broccoli provides 5.1 grams of fiber per cup and is a concentrate of vitamins A and C.
A basic steamed broccoli recipe is a staple in our repertoire and the basis of many variations… a cheese sauce, do you like it?
Have you ever noticed that a lot of people only want to eat broccoli florets? Well, this paleo broccoli donut recipe is a revelation of unexplored delicacies – and it only uses the broccoli stalks!
8. Brussels sprouts
Talk about reputational rehabilitation! Brussels sprouts have become so In, they are almost Out. Just saying, save us more brussels with nuts or candied fruit.
The game-changing discovery of Brussels sprouts was when cooks cut them in half and browned them, bringing out their natural sweetness, like in this sautéed Brussels sprouts recipe.
It really is the only recipe you need, and the only thing that could make it better are caramelized onions. Hold the dried cranberries. Bring the fiber – 4.1 grams per cup!
Being a jerk is good when raspberries are in season. The Easy Raspberry Fou is a succulent blend of whipped cream, homemade raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries.
The raspberry crunch is an essential summer dessert. We make this recipe healthier by adding oatmeal and chopped nuts to the crispy filling.
For dessert, we simply served bowls of raspberries with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Not everyone knew there were 8 grams of fiber in every cup of berries. Not fool!
Blackberries ask to be cooked in a cobbler. Hear them? “Cover us with a golden blanket, a sweet cookie, like mom’s mom did. We’re replacing the 2 percent milk in this recipe with whole milk because that’s how our Grammy rolled.
Nowadays, fruits appear in savory dishes. And while some of us are still adjusting to the idea, this lemon and blackberry salad is a straightforward introduction. Tossing sweet berries with salad mixed with a tangy lemon dressing provides 7.6 grams of fiber per cup.
Yes, technically it’s a fruit. And its creamy consistency and fresh flavor made it the most popular breakfast toast at our local cafe. You already know how to do this. Crush it!
Avocado adds a creamy flavor to this Mexican-inspired chicken, black bean, avocado and radish salad.
But did you know that it’s also a healthy and undetectable ingredient in avocado chocolate mousse? We love this dessert and its 6.7 grams of fiber for half a raw avocado. Few foods deserve the title of “superfood” more than avocado.
Pears poached in wine are a sophisticated accompaniment that (heh) pairs wonderfully with roasted meat. Or, for dessert, add a dollop of sweet mascarpone and toasted nuts.
In this roasted pork tenderloin recipe with herbs and pears, the fruit bakes with the meat, the sweet flavors caramelizing together.
Of course, nothing better than a ripe, juicy Bartlett pear in the fall, and you’ll get the most fiber – 4.6 grams – when you eat it raw.
13. Bran flakes
If we were playing the password game and the word was “bran” our answer would be “What are muffins?” Store bought products may be half too sweet, so we like to use this recipe for bran muffins, which gets a light buttermilk texture.
And we’re not ashamed to admit that sometimes dinner for us is a bowl of cereal. One serving of bran flakes has 7 grams of fiber per cup, and milk and a banana add calcium and potassium.
14. Whole wheat pasta
With the right sauce, whole wheat pasta is no different from its high GI, white flour cousin, like in this superb wheat spaghetti carbonara, with Parmesan, bacon and a fair amount of garlic.
Whole-wheat penne can resist a hearty sauce of broccoli (another high-fiber vegetable, remember?) And chicken sausage. Including high fiber vegetables in your sauce increases the 6.3 grams of fiber in whole wheat pasta per cooked cup.
15. Pearl barley
Barley evokes winter, soups and Scottish broth. But our favorite way to eat it is in a summer barley salad with herbs. And you know what? We reduced the cooking time by using pearl barley by 10 minutes.
Barley starch also lends itself to a risotto technique in this pearl barley risotto with roasted squash, red peppers and arugula. Rocket is what the English call rocket, BTW. One cup of cooked barley contains 6 grams of fiber and a low glycemic index.
You might be surprised to learn that beer isn’t the only barley drink. This summer barley tea is a favorite in Japan.
It is above all breakfast. Familiar, warm, heartwarming, adaptable and easy. And we love that bloggers figured out how to make oatmeal on the stovetop and in the microwave.
You can increase the 4 grams of fiber by adding carrots (yes, carrots!)
- Flaxseed flour. Add to oats, smoothies, yogurt and baked goods. You can even try breading chicken or fish with it. Two tablespoons contain 3.8 grams of fiber and a dose of omega-3 fatty acids to start.
- chia seeds. Those have a whopping 5.5 grams of fiber per tbsp. When encountered with water, they form a viscous gel which is great for thickening smoothies and making healthy puddings. You can even use them as an egg substitute when cooking.
- Spinach and carrots. Are not as high in fiber as the vegetables mentioned above, they can easily be sliced or grated and slipped into many dishes without much hassle: try adding some to banana bread, shakes, eggs or even to a homemade pizza base.
- Food processors. Are fiber’s best friend. Puree cooked vegetables and add them to sauces and stews, or substitute rice for “rice” cauliflower.
Note: The nutritional information in this article is from nutritiondata.self.com. Additionally, the amount of fiber in these foods may vary slightly between the raw and cooked versions.