7 Ways to Add 5 Grams of Fiber to Your Meals
Pictured Recipe: Raspberry-Peach-Mango Smoothie Bowl
While it may not seem like the most glamorous nutrient, fiber is important for a host of reasons. It can help lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, improve gut health and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends getting 25 to 30 grams daily to meet your needs. They also report that over 90% of American adults don't hit that mark. Yes, you read that right—a staggering 90% of adults aren't eating enough fiber each day.
Luckily for us, there are several high-fiber foods that can be easy and flavorful additions to your diet. And a little goes a long way—even just adding 5 extra grams accounts for roughly 20% of your daily needs. Regardless of your dietary preferences, there is sure to be a fiber-rich ingredient on this list that can help you meet your needs. Here are 7 ways to add 5 grams of fiber to your meals.
1. Sprinkle in chia seeds
A 2-teaspoon serving of chia seeds contains about 5 grams of fiber.
When it comes to fiber-rich foods, chia seeds are at the top of the list. Though small, they pack a nutritional punch with ample fiber, calcium, iron and omega-3s. They can even help reduce inflammation, promote weight loss and improve digestion (and help keep you regular). Another reason chia seeds are so great is because they're versatile. They can be added to smoothies, folded into baked goods and sprinkled on top of oats or yogurt. Adding chia seeds to your day is a great way to help you meet your fiber needs.
2. Add leafy greens
Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards and chard are nutrient-dense foods, meaning they pack in a lot of nutrition for comparatively few calories. Research has shown that eating dark leafy greens can help lower cancer risk, build healthy bones and keep your brain functioning at its best.
Cooking down greens means you can get more nutrients in a smaller serving, making them an even more potent source of certain nutrients, like fiber. Try adding them to foods you already make, like pasta, egg scrambles and stir-fries. Greens are just as versatile and delicious raw, too. While 5 cups might seem like a lot, adding a half-cup here and there throughout the day is a great way to up your intake. Try blending raw leafy greens into smoothies (you won't even taste them), pulsing them into sauces and using them as a salad base.
3. Snack on fruit
Fruits come in so many different shapes, sizes and flavors, but there is one thing they have in common: they all have fiber. Add fruits to meals like smoothies, oats and salads for a touch of natural sweetness and flavor, or simply enjoy them as a snack on their own. Adding even a single serving of fruit per day can help boost your fiber intake. Pro tip: Keep the skins on (after you wash them well) for even more of a fiber boost.
4. Swap in beans
A 1/3-cup serving of beans contains about 5 grams of fiber.
Here at EatingWell, we love beans for plenty of reasons. Their combination of fiber and protein will help you feel full and satisfied for longer, plus research credits bean eaters with lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower diabetes risk.
Beans are also very affordable, whether they're canned or dried. And because they're shelf-stable, keeping a can or two on hand means you'll always have a high-fiber plant-based protein source at the ready to fill out your meals.
And with so many different varieties available, from cannellini to kidney, there are lots of dishes you can incorporate beans into. Try adding beans into a dish you already enjoy, like a cheesy casserole, a satisfying salad or a loaded sandwich. Check out our flexitarian dinners with beans for more inspiration.
5. Top it with avocados
One half of an avocado contains about 5 grams of fiber.
Your daily avocado toast is a great way to start your day on a fiber-rich note. There are so many healthy reasons to eat avocados, even beyond their impressive fiber content. They can help improve heart health, boost your good cholesterol levels and protect your skin and eyes. Add them to smoothies, blend them into our Avocado Pasta or use them to top everything from tacos to sushi.
6. Eat oats for breakfast
A 1/2-cup serving of oats (measured raw) contains about 5 grams of fiber.
If you're looking to up your fiber intake, boost your heart health or protect against diabetes, oats are the breakfast for you. They are quick to make and can even be prepped ahead in the form of overnight oats for something you can grab and take on the go. Beyond oatmeal, oats are a great addition to baked goods and smoothies, as well. Adding a serving of oatmeal to your day can help you meet your fiber needs and improve your overall health.
7. Choose whole grains
What makes whole grains different from refined grains is their structure: whole grains contain all of the parts of the grain, whereas refining them removes most of the micronutrients, fiber and protein, leaving behind the carbohydrates. Whole grains are important to your health for a lot of reasons—from lowering cancer risk to helping manage diabetes—and we consider them to be some of the best foods you can eat for your heart health. Luckily for us, whole-grain products like whole-grain pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread and other whole grains like quinoa, farro and barley make it easy to up your intake.