Expert Q&A

Fiber: What's the best way to add it to your diet?

My doctor told me to eat more fiber. What’s the best way to add fiber to my diet?

-Nancy from Utah

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both kinds are helpful in controlling blood sugars, lowering blood lipids, and controlling weight. However, despite these benefits, the average daily intake of fiber is well below the suggested 25-35 grams. To maintain your health and vitality, it’s very important to find ways of adding more fiber to your diet.

This task can seem pretty daunting because when most people think of fiber, they think of salads. And who wants to eat tons of salad every day? But salads are a great option—the good ones incorporate both soluble and insoluble fiber. To make a really healthy salad, start with dark, leafy greens. Then add legumes/beans, chopped vegetables, and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds. Top your salad with a low-fat dressing (to keep the calories down).

If eating a salad every day doesn’t appeal to you, don’t despair! There are many other strategies for adding more fiber into your diet. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Substitute whole grain foods for the staple foods in your diet (e.g. switch regular oatmeal with steel cut oats or buy cereal that has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving).
  • Choose whole grain breads and baked goods.
  • Make small additions to your meals (e.g. sprinkle ground flax seed or wheat bran onto your cereal or add it to baked goods).
  • Integrate various fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds into your meals and snacks.
  • When eating fruit or vegetables, eat the skin when appropriate.
  • For a main dish, serve legumes in place of meat.
  • Instead of white rice or pasta for side dishes, cook whole grains like quinoa, wild rice, whole grain barley or bulgur.

For more information on new whole grains on the market see the following article from TheDietChannel: 3 New Delicious Whole Grains.

For more information on the role of fiber in your diet see the following articles from TheDietChannel: High Fiber Diet and Fat and What You Should Know About Fiber.

Megan Porter, RD/LD
Contributing Expert

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