Fuel Your Diet with Fiber with 6 Dietitian Tips

Sharon Palmer

If you’re like most Americans, your diet is woefully short on fiber, the powerful nutrient that has so many health benefits. Fiber is good for your heart, digestion, and gut microflora (it helps feed your friendly bacteria). It also helps you feel fuller for longer. No wonder fiber-rich foods, such as pulses (beans, lentils, peas), whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds have been linked with so many health rewards, including reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, and certain types of cancers. So, how can you fuel your diet with the fiber your body needs? These top dietitians offer their best tips.

Lima Bean Sumac Salad

1. Get Beany. “I add them to soup, salads, and the majority of my crockpot recipes. They add tons of fiber and more protein to the dish. Rinse canned beans under running water to reduce the sodium by 35%,” says Joan Salge Blake, Clinical Associate Professor, Boston University, and author of Nutrition & You.

2. Fill Your Plate with Plants. “I emphasize to my clients the importance of filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits, which provide fiber, as well as choosing whole grains. I personally add ground flax seeds to my oatmeal, yogurt, and smoothies as another easy way to add heart-healthy fat and fiber to my diet,” says Jessica Cox Ivey, registered dietitian and chef.

Nourish Lentil Bowl

3. Check Yourself. “To ensure I hit my daily fiber goal, I always ask myself these questions: 1. Is this a whole grain? Leaving the bran and germ intact increases both nutrients and fiber. 2. Could I add beans to this? Legumes are an excellent way to increase fiber, protein and other key nutrients. They also increase satiety, keeping you satisfied longer. Add them to salads, pastas, soups, tofu scrambles, wraps, etc. 3. Can I add another vegetable? I like to keep shredded or diced vegetables on hand for additional fiber and nutrients here and there, like extra pizza toppings, a quick stir fry, building a better sandwich. Keep 3-4 airtight containers on hand and rotate which veggies you use to prevent boredom,” says Catherine Brown, CDM/CFPP, plant-based chef and culinary nutritionists at A Seat at My Table.

Savory Steel Cut Oats with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Tofu

4. Add Veggies to Every Meal. “I encourage my clients and readers to try to eat one or more vegetables at each meal to meet their fiber needs. For breakfast, slip veggies into smoothies, overnight oats, or on-the-go breakfast cups. At lunch, snack on raw veggies or load up a salad. And for dinner, aim to make half your plate veggies or other plant-based foods. Eating a variety of vegetables is an excellent way to add fiber to meals and snacks!” says Lizzie Streit, culinary dietitian at It’s a Veg World After All.

5. Eat Real Food. “If you are eating real food that is mostly unprocessed throughout the day you will have no problem hitting your goal!” says Kelli Shallal MPH RD, private practice RD, and blogger behind Hungry Hobby.

Balsamic Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts with Farro

6. Try Squash. “Winter squash boasts a nice serving of fiber in a lightly sweet package. But it is acorn squash that tops the charts at 9 grams per cup. I like to roast wedges of acorn squash with salt and pepper and then broil with a drizzle of honey and freshly grated Parmesan for a slightly sweet and salty dish!” says Jennifer Hunt, RDN, LD at Healthy Inspiration.

Image: Moroccan Chickpea Sorghum Bowl, Sharon Palmer, RDN

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