14 High-Fiber Meals to Add to Your Diet (and Why Fiber Is So Great in the First Place)
You know that fiber is an important component of a healthy diet. But let’s be honest: Do you know what fiber is exactly? Let’s ask a dietitian.
“Fiber is the nondigestible part of plant foods that is found in whole fruit 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 to our daily diet, because fiber can help regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, feed the good bacteria in our gut, reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent constipation and help you feel (and stay) full after eating.
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. One cup of raspberries contains eight grams of fiber, a cup of whole-wheat spaghetti has six grams and half a cup of black beans has 7.5 grams. Plus, adding fiber to your diet doesn’t have to be overly complicated. “I recommend looking at your current meals and seeing how you can add more fiber into what you are already eating,” McDowell tells us. “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 soups 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 also make sure that you increase your water intake.
Ready to amp up your fiber? Try one of these 14 tasty meals.
1. Salmon Bowl with Farro, Black Beans and Tahini (27g Fiber)
Nearly every element of this recipe has fiber in it: The two tablespoons of tahini in the dressing have almost three grams of fiber, and the lettuce and avocado add another nice boost.
2. Veggie Nicoise Salad with Red Curry Green Beans (7g Fiber)
Most salads are high in fiber, but this veggie riff on the classic tuna-topped salad adds extra with green beans.
3. Harissa Chickpea Stew with Eggplant and Millet (35g Fiber)
Millet is a relatively unsung fiber hero. This whole grain packs in nine grams per 100 gram serving, and it’s as delicious as pasta, we promise. Let it soak up all those spicy stew flavors and you’ll be hooked.
4. Chickpea and Vegetable Coconut Curry (32g Fiber)
Chickpeas are packed with fiber, and the more veggies you add to this curry, the more of the good stuff you’ll consume.
5. Creamy Vegan Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Bake (11g Fiber)
Veganizing this dish with cashew cream adds fiber where dairy would usually be, and the pine nuts on top add an extra dash, too.
6. Lemon Tahini Salad with Lentils, Beets and Carrots (19g Fiber)
The key to turning any salad into a meal? Add lentils. They’re chock-full of fiber, which fills you up (as you now know).
7. The Ultimate Quinoa Avocado Bowl (13g Fiber)
By now, you’re probably well acquainted with our friend quinoa. It’s not actually a grain, it’s a seed, so it has tons of protein while still packing in an impressive amount of fiber.
8. Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce (8g Fiber)
Made from buckwheat, Japanese soba noodles are a high-fiber alternative to white flour noodles. Peanuts also contain a decent amount, as do peas.
9. Buckwheat Gnocchi with Cabbage, Potatoes and Fontina (6g Fiber)
If you’re eager for a project, this homemade buckwheat gnocchi, made with creamy ricotta cheese, should be it. Potatoes are also a surprising source of fiber, with about five grams in one medium-sized potato. Add cabbage and more greens to up the fiber even more.
10. Avocado, Radish and Walnuts with Carrot-Miso Dressing (13g Fiber)
This composed salad looks like it came out of a restaurant kitchen, but it’s shockingly easy to make. Just grab your good knives, slice and assemble.
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 that portobello with even more fiber in the form of creamy whole grains. One bite and you’ll forget you were aiming for healthy.
12. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Nachos with Green Chili Salsa (10g Fiber)
Swapping out chips for crisp sweet potatoes is a clever and tasty move to add more fiber to a meal-worthy plate of nachos. Plus, the homemade tomatillo salsa and black bean topping add even more fiber to the dish.
13. Spicy Chili Crisp White Bean and Barley Stew with Kale and Eggs (14g Fiber)
Chili crisp amps up the spiciness of this vegetarian stew that’s packed with fiber-rich ingredients. (Add a side of edamame and brown rice for even more.)
14. Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers (7g Fiber)
The best meals come in edible bowls. These stuffed peppers are super easy to make, and if you sub the white rice for brown rice or another whole grain (cook it a little first), you’ll add even more.