You know that fiber is an important component of a healthy diet. But let’s be honest: Do you know what fiber is exactly? “Fiber is the non-digestible part of plant foods that is found in whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes, like greens, peas and lentils,” says registered dietitian Brynn McDowell. Dietary fiber is broken down into two main categories: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and can be broken down by the good bacteria in our gut, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve and adds bulk to our stool, McDowell explains. Both are important, because fiber can help regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, feed the good bacteria in your gut, reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent constipation and help you feel (and stay) full. Read on for more about this essential macronutrient you, plus 14 of our favorite high-fiber meals to get you started.
14 High-Fiber Meals to Add to Your Diet (and Why Fiber Is So Great in the First Place)
How Much Fiber Should You Eat?
Current nutrition guidelines say that women under 50 years old should eat 25 grams of fiber per day, while women over the age of 50 should aim for 21 grams per day. And yes, getting enough fiber is important. “Low dietary fiber intake can lead to poor digestive health, meaning increased risk for constipation, diverticular disease and hemorrhoids,” McDowell says. “Cholesterol levels in the blood can also increase, which can lead to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. A diet low in fiber typically means a diet low in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. In addition to being low in fiber, this can also mean a diet lacking in various nutrients, vitamins and minerals.” Yikes.
The great news is that adding high-fiber foods to your diet is pretty simple. For reference, one cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber, a cup of whole-wheat spaghetti has 6 grams and half a cup of black beans has 7.5 grams. “I recommend looking at your current meals and seeing how you can add more fiber into what you are already eating,” McDowell suggests. “For example, choosing 100 percent whole-wheat bread over white bread will increase the fiber content. Adding some fresh berries and sliced almonds to yogurt, putting a scoop of chia seeds or flaxseed into your morning smoothie or adding beans to soup or chili are all simple steps you can take in the kitchen to add more fiber to your meals.” When increasing fiber in your diet, do it slowly and make sure that you increase your water intake, too.
Ready to get cooking? Try one of the following high-fiber meals that are bound to keep you full.
1. Salmon Bowl With Farro, Black Beans And Tahini (27g Fiber)
3. Harissa Chickpea Stew With Eggplant And Millet (35g Fiber)
6. Lemon Tahini Salad With Lentils, Beets And Carrots (19g Fiber)
The key to turning any salad into a meal? Lentils. They’re chock-full of fiber, which fills you up (as you now know). This vibrant dish is not only easy and dinner party-ready, but it's also vegan and dairy-free.
Time Commitment: 45 minutes
7. The Ultimate Quinoa Avocado Bowl (13g Fiber)
By now, you’re probably well acquainted with our friend quinoa, and this pescatarian, dairy-free bowl is one of our favorite ways to eat it. It’s a seed (not a grain), so it has tons of protein while still packing an impressive amount of fiber.
Time Commitment: 45 minutes
9. Buckwheat Gnocchi With Cabbage, Potatoes And Fontina (6g Fiber)
If you’re eager for an easy (yet impressive) dinner project, this homemade buckwheat gnocchi, made with creamy ricotta cheese, should be it. Potatoes are also a surprising source of fiber, with about 5 grams per medium-sized spud. Add cabbage and more greens to up the fiber even more.
Time Commitment: 40 minutes
10. Avocado, Radish And Walnuts With Carrot-miso Dressing (13g Fiber)
11. Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed With Barley Risotto (10g Fiber)
In addition to being fiber powerhouses, mushrooms are low in calories, fat and carbs. So stuff those Portobellos with even *more* fiber in the form of creamy whole grains. One bite of this vegetarian, protein-packed masterpiece and you’ll forget you were aiming for healthy.
Time Commitment: 1 hour and 15 minutes
12. Sweet Potato And Black Bean Nachos With Green Chili Salsa (10g Fiber)
13. Spicy Chile Crisp White Bean And Barley Stew With Kale And Eggs (14g Fiber)
14. Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers (7g Fiber)
The best meals come in edible bowls. These gluten-free, protein-rich stuffed peppers are super easy to make, and if you sub the white rice for brown rice or another whole grain, you’ll boost the fiber content to the max.
Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes