Try these simple tips for getting more fiber to help prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Updated October 28, 2019

Eating enough fiber is important for helping to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Research also suggests that consuming fiber-rich foods might boost weight loss by helping you to feel fuller after you eat. But most of us eat only about half as much fiber as we should. Nutrition guidelines recommend 25 to 38 grams per day; the average American consumes only about 14 grams. It's not hard to boost your fiber intake. Do it easily with these 5 simple tips.

1. Eat Your Fruits

Eat, rather than drink, your fruits and vegetables. When either are processed to make juice, most of the beneficial fiber is left behind. If you are going to drink your fruits and veg, opt for smoothies, as they hang on to all of the nutrients.

2. Read Nutrition Labels

Check the nutrition labels on the back of packaged food. Under the carbohydrate section, there is a line for dietary fiber. Some products, like whole grain bread, have more than double the fiber of their refined counterparts. Reading labels can help you get the most bang for your buck.

3. Eat Your Vegetables

Eat your vegetables, and then some. Forget "five-a-day"; many nutrition experts suggest aiming much higher. Aim for making vegetables, preferably fiber-rich types like greens and broccoli,  a part of every meal and snack. Adding vegetables to foods you already eat, like zucchini to pasta, can help get your number even higher.

4. Don't Peel Edible Skins From Fruits and Vegetables

When possible, leave the skins on fruits and vegetables. Several fruits and vegetables, like apples and cucumbers, have perfectly edible skin that can help boost your fiber intake. To avoid any dirt or residue, wash skins thoroughly before eating, and opt for organic varieties when you can.

5. Eat Beans, Lentils and Split Peas

Become a frequent eater of beans, lentils and split peas. As well as being rich in fiber, they are a great source of many vitamins and minerals. They are a great filling option if you are on a budget and are super convenient. However, if using canned beans, be sure to rinse them in a colander to wash away excess sodium.