Despite its many health benefits, fiber is lacking in the typical American diet. In fact, the average daily intake of fiber is so low the USDA considers it a public health concern. Here's why fiber is so important, and the foods to prioritize to make sure you're getting enough of it.
Benefits of fiber
Plus, "fiber aids in the reduction of total and LDL cholesterol4 by binding to cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract and moving it out of circulation," says registered dietitian and nutritionist Maya Feller, M.S., R.D., CDN. "These actions reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes5," Feller says.
How much do I need?
Recommended fiber intake by age
|1-3 years||19 grams/ day||19 grams/ day|
|4-8 years||25 grams/ day||25 grams/ day|
|9-13 years||31 grams/ day||25 grams/ day|
|14-50 years||38 grams/ day||25 grams/ day|
|51+ years||30 grams/day||21 grams/ day|
|Pregnancy||-||28 grams/ day|
In order to fill what nutritionists call "the fiber gap," consider adding these high-fiber 25 foods to your diet.
Fiber: 8 to 16 grams per cup.
A standard serving size of steel cut oats is 1/4 cup, and a standard serving size of old fashioned rolled oats is 1/2 cup.
Start your morning off with 1 cup of steel cut oats, and you're already at 16 grams of fiber, according to Feller. Add blueberries or strawberries to the mix for an added boost.
Try this: Collagen-packed overnight oats recipe
Fiber: 17 grams per cup.
"When compared to other grains," registered dietitian Nour Zibdeh, M.S., RDN, says "buckwheat—which is technically a seed—has more fiber and protein." Just 1 cup contains 17 grams of fiber.
Try this: Chocolate buckwheat pancake recipe
Fiber: 6 grams per cup.
Barley is a type of grain, commonly used as a base for grain bowls. If you're able to tolerate gluten, eating 1 cup of cooked barley will give you about 6 grams of fiber.
Fiber: 4 grams per cup.
Fiber: 13.5 grams, one avocado.
Try one of these 9 avocado dessert recipes.
Fiber: 4.4 grams, one medium apple.
You know an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and maybe fiber has something to do with that. "One medium apple contains over 4 grams of fiber," Feller says. They're also high in calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.
Fiber: 4 to 8 grams per cup.
Blackberries and raspberries both provide about 8 grams of fiber per cup, while blueberries provide 4 grams. The berries are also a good source of polyphenols, which play a role in metabolism, as well as chronic disease and weight management.
Try one of these 9 antioxidant-rich breakfast recipes
Fiber: 5 grams, one medium pear.
Fiber: 2 grams per three to four prunes.
Try this: 5-ingredient chocolate energy bites
Fiber: 9 grams per cup.
Try this: Homemade gluten-free guava coconut bars
Fiber: 3 grams, one medium banana.
Since bananas are berries, it's no surprise they're also high in fiber. Eating one medium-sized banana increases your fiber intake by about 3 grams.
Fiber: 3 grams per 2 cups.
Kale is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and K, and can also add to your fiber intake. Eating 2 cups of baby kale provides nearly 3 grams of fiber.
Try this: Protein-packed green smoothie recipe
Fiber: 5 grams per cup.
Try this: Garlic, tofu, & broccoli stir-fry recipe
Fiber: 3 grams per cup.
Try this: Vegan wild rice salad recipe
Fiber: 5 grams, one small head.
One small head of cauliflower contains 5 grams of dietary fiber. Using ground cauliflower in place of rice is a simple way for people on grain-free diets to meet their fiber needs.
Try this: Sunny collagen-turmeric smoothie
Fiber: 7 grams per artichoke.
Try this: Healthy spinach artichoke dip recipe
Fiber: 6 grams per sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can promote gut health and regular digestion. Eating one sweet potato with the skin on provides almost 6 grams of fiber.
Try this: Sweet potato breakfast porridge
Fiber: 15 grams per cup.
Try one of these 10 lentil-based recipes.
Fiber: 16 grams per cup.
Split peas are similar to lentils, but they're grown from a different plant: the field pea. They're called split peas because after being dried and hulled, they're split down the middle. One cup of cooked split peas contains 16 grams of dietary fiber.
Try this: Pea protein milk recipe
Fiber: 10 grams per cup.
Try this: Everything chickpeas snack recipe
Fiber: 9 grams per cup.
Try this: Salade niçoise recipe
Fiber: 15 grams per cup.
Another good source of plant-based protein and fiber are lima beans—1 cup of boiled lima beans contains 15 grams of protein and almost 14 grams of dietary fiber. They also contain nutrients like iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Try this: 5-ingredient artichoke salad
Nuts and seeds
Fiber: 4 grams per ounce (or 14.9 g per cup.)
Not only are almonds rich in protein (6 grams), but Feller says 1 ounce of almonds also contains 4 grams of fiber. The nutrient combo makes almonds an ideal snack when you want to stay satiated for a long period of time.
Try this: No-bake chocolate fudge recipe
Fiber: 9 grams per 2 tablespoons.
Try one of these 4 chia pudding recipes
Fiber: 12 grams per cup.
Enjoy sunflower seeds as a tasty snack or on top of creamy soups. One cup contains 12 grams of fiber. They also provide 9% of the recommended daily intake for magnesium and 14% of zinc.
Frequently Asked Questions
What foods have the most fiber?
Beans, berries, avocados, green veggies and whole grains like buckwheat are just a few foods that are especially high in fiber.
How much fiber do I need per day?
The recommended fiber intake for adults is around 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
Can you get enough fiber from food alone?
Yes, you can definitely get enough fiber from food alone. Aim to eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables with each meal. If you're worried you're not meeting your fiber goals, you might want to try a fiber supplement—just speak with your doctor first.
Fiber is an important nutrient that we don't seem to be consuming enough of. Luckily, these 25 fiber-filled foods above can easily up your fiber intake. If you're not used to eating so much fiber, introduce it into your diet gradually to reduce the risk of stomach upset.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.