Fiber is an integral part of any healthy diet. Fiber feeds “healthy” bacteria in the gut, which control a number of systems in the body. When you properly nourish your gut, it will reward you in a number of ways. Our gut controls everything from our digestive health to our mental health, so feeding it the foods it needs to feel better is crucial. However, not all fiber is created equal and our busy schedules mean that we often don’t have time to overthink weekly meal plans. What are the foods rich in fiber with the most benefits that we should focus on incorporating into our daily diet?
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According to Lisa Young, PhD, RD, author of Finally Complete, Finally Slim, eating fiber in your regular diet is crucial for optimal health. “Fiber has so many benefits,” she says, “it helps you stay regular, prevents disease including colon cancer, lowers cholesterol and keeps you full, perfect for managing your weight. Plus, because fiber helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, it has been shown to have a number of heart health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and inflammation. . While the general recommendation is 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day, Young suggests that you aim for at least 25 grams, especially at the start.
When it comes to foods you need to focus on specifically, the first one that Young recommends is apples. The old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” rings true: Apples are high in fiber and make a great snack or addition to a healthy breakfast. To ensure you get the most benefits, eat them with the skin on – this is where the majority of the fiber is!
A diet rich in a variety of vegetables is also essential, especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Broccoli and cauliflower are not only high in fiber, but also contain a host of benefits, including protecting cells from DNA damage, reducing inflammation, and antiviral effects. On top of that, they are incredibly versatile and easy to prepare. Roasting them in the oven or deep fryer with oil and seasonings makes a great side dish for dinner, especially on days when you’re late and scrambling to prepare something.
When it comes to your “basics,” there are plenty of whole grains that are high in fiber to add to your diet. Young recommends foods like oatmeal and quinoa as two easy options for adding fiber to your meals. Oatmeal is a versatile breakfast option that can be made in different ways, with different fruits or butters to make sure you maintain the variety. With heart health in mind, Young also recommends foods high in potassium like oranges, bananas, and baked potatoes with the skin on.
Ultimately, the most important thing when trying to get more fiber from your diet is to remember to have variety in what you eat. Filling your plate with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is the best way to make sure you’re getting enough fiber, so you can look and feel better.