How Much Fiber Should I Eat Daily? An important part of your diet is fiber. A high fiber diet is associated with lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and weight gain. The amount of fiber you eat will depend on your age, gender, genetics and medical conditions you may have. There’s lots of advice on how much fiber is the right amount, but most of them don’t give a complete picture and it seems to be confusing even for experts to know the right amount. Here’s a look at how much fiber you should be eating every day.
Why is fiber important?
A high-fiber diet appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation and colon cancer. Fiber is important for the health of the digestive system and for lowering cholesterol.
What is fiber?
Dietary fiber is material from plant cells that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the human digestive tract. There are two important types of fiber: water-soluble and water insoluble. Each has different properties and characteristics.
- Soluble Water-soluble fibers absorb water during digestion. They increase stool bulk and may decrease blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber can be found in fruits (such as apples, oranges and grapefruit), vegetables, legumes (such as dry beans, lentils and peas), barley, oats and oat bran.
- Insoluble Water-insoluble fibers remain unchanged during digestion. They promote normal movement of intestinal contents. Insoluble fiber can be found in fruits with edible peel or seeds, vegetables, whole grain products (such as whole-wheat bread, pasta and crackers), bulgur wheat, stone ground corn meal, cereals, bran, rolled oats, buckwheat and brown rice.
How much fiber do I need each day?
The American Heart Association Eating Plan suggests eating a variety of food fiber sources. Total dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food, not supplements. Currently, dietary fiber intakes among adults in the United States average about 15 grams a day. That’s about half the recommended amount.
How Much Fiber Do You Need to Reap the Health Benefits?
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines set adequate intake of fiber at 25 grams (g) a day for women and 38 g a day for men. Most Americans are getting just half that, with the average intake clocking in at 15 g, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Upping your fiber count for the day doesn’t have to be hard. Not only can boosting your fiber intake be surprisingly easy, but fiber-rich foods are tasty, too (avocado toast, anyone?).
“To get enough fiber, I always suggest making at least half of your grains whole grains, and getting the recommended five servings per day of fruits and vegetables as a starting point,” says McMordie. “Snacking on high-fiber foods, such as nuts, hummus, high-fiber cereal, or whole-grain crackers is another good way to add fiber in throughout the day,” she suggests.
Here are 10 of the best sources of fiber to reach for.
Green Peas Up Your Fiber and Provide Essential Vitamins
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The veggie may be tiny, but peas boast an impressive amount of fiber — around 4 g per ½ cup, according to the USDA, which is 14 percent of the daily value (DV). “Tossing in a few handfuls of frozen peas is an easy way to add green veggies to pasta and rice dishes,” says Johannah Sakimura, RD, who’s based in Summit, New Jersey. Other ways to work with peas? “You can mash them into dips and spreads for toast or crackers,” says McMordie.
In addition to fiber, “peas supply vitamin A, which may help support healthy skin and eyes, and vitamin K, which may help maintain bone strength,” says Sakimura.
Artichokes Are Full of Fiber and Low in Calories
We’re sorry to report that you probably won’t get lots of fiber from artichoke dip. But you can if you eat the actual vegetable. Half an artichoke (the edible part at the bases of the petals) clocks in at 3 g of fiber, according to the USDA, which is 11 percent of the DV. You’ll also get only 30 calories if you eat that amount.
If you’ve never cooked an artichoke, worry not — you can still enjoy this veggie and reap the fiber rewards. “They can be a little tricky since most people are not comfortable cooking fresh ones, but canned artichoke hearts are easy to cook with and can be used in salads and pasta dishes or made into dips,” says McMordie.
And if you are up for the challenge, try steaming an artichoke with a little olive oil, garlic, and rosemary or stuffing them with feta and sundried tomatoes before roasting in the oven.
A bonus perk of artichokes? They are considered a high-potassium vegetable, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. When a food is “high” in a nutrient, it provides at least 20 percent of the DV, per the Academy.
Avocados Pack Ample Fiber and Heart-Healthy Fats
Avocado lovers, rejoice! Here’s a good excuse to order avocado toast: Half of one avocado has about 5 g of fiber, according to the USDA, and that’s 18 percent your DV. You’ll also want to embrace the avocado’s fat. “Most of the fat in avocados is monounsaturated fat, the same heart-healthy kind found in olive oil,” says Jonny Bowden, PhD, of Los Angeles, the author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.
When you think of avocados, your mind may go right to guacamole and avocado toast, but there are plenty of other ways to put them to use. “Avocados are a nutrient-dense, versatile fruit that can be eaten alone or used in a variety of tasty recipes from soups to salad to smoothies.” says Marisa Moore, RDN, who’s based in Atlanta. “I like to add them to smoothies for creaminess and to boost fiber intake,” she adds.
Edamame Makes Filling Up on Fiber Easy and Fun
Having a snack attack? Instead of opening a bag of chips, why not reach for edamame? Edamame is a tasty, fiber-rich snack, boasting about 5 g per ½ cup, according to the USDA, which is 18 percent of the DV. “It provides the coveted trifecta of protein, fiber, and healthy fat in one package. Okay, lots of little packages!” says Sakimura.
There are more edamame perks: An article detailing findings from three past studies, and published in the March 2020 issue of Circulation, concluded that people who ate foods with isoflavones, like edamame or tofu, had a moderately lower risk of developing heart disease.
Enjoy edamame straight from the pod as an afternoon snack, order them as a side with your sushi or Thai entrée, or throw them in grain bowls and salads.
Beans Are a Versatile, Fiber-Rich Food With Protein and Iron, Too
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When people think of high-fiber foods, likely beans come to mind — and for good reason. According to the USDA, ½ cup of navy beans has 7 g of fiber, which offers 25 percent of the DV.
Black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzos — as mentioned, all part of the pulses family — are fiber-packed, too. “By far, pulses of all kinds are my go-to high-fiber foods,” says Moore. “Black beans are a staple for side dishes, bean burgers, and skillets, and chickpeas are another staple — I love to roast and season them for a crunchy snack,” Moore adds.
Beans are protein-packed, and come with iron that can help fight conditions like anemia, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. One study in the journal CMAJ found that beans may help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels.
Consider tossing beans into a salad or adding them to any soup or salsa. They can also serve as the main event — think bean-based soup, bean burritos, and rice and beans.
Pears Make for the Perfect Fiber-Filled Dessert
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Apples tend to hog the spotlight as an easy-to-eat fruit staple, but it’s time to start thinking about adding pears to your fruit bowl, too. Why? They’re filled with fiber! One medium-size pear has 5.5 g, according to the USDA, which is 20 percent of the recommended DV.
Plus, they’re delicious. “Nibbling on a juicy, ripe pear is a great way to end a meal on a healthy sweet note if you’re trying to avoid high-calorie, sugary desserts,” says Sakimura. In addition to offering lots of fiber, pears are a good source of vitamin C, coming in at 7.65 milligrams (mg) for a medium pear, which is about 9 percent of the DV.
“You can store them for several weeks in the fridge, unlike more delicate fruit,” says Sakimura. “Just let them ripen on the counter for a few days before eating.”
Lentils Are a Quick Way to Fill Up on Fiber
If you’re not eating lentils regularly, it’s time to start. “Lentils are full of fiber,” says Moore. “They supply a spectrum of vitamins and minerals, and they’re a terrific vegetarian source of both protein and iron,” says Sakimura. With around 7 g of fiber in ½ cup of cooked lentils, per the USDA (with 25 percent the DV), they are a smart addition to burritos, burgers, and stuffed peppers.
“I like to include lentils in soups, curries, and salads,” says Moore. “And they cook faster than most other pulses, so they are a great option for newbies — red lentils cook in about 15 minutes, so they are perfect for a weeknight curry, while green and brown lentils add protein and fiber to soups, stews, or rice pilaf,” Moore notes.
Research supports lentils’ many perks. For example, a small study published in April 2018 in the Journal of Nutrition found lentils lowered blood sugar in 48 people without diabetes when participants swapped in lentils for some of their starchy side (such as rice) rather than eating the starchy side alone.
Chia Seeds are Easy to Add to Any Meal
Want a simple way to sprinkle more fiber into your meal? Consider chia seeds. “Chia seeds are particularly high in fiber,” says McMordie, with one ounce clocking in at almost 10 g, per the USDA, which is about 35 percent of the DV.
This tiny superfood also comes packed with other pluses. “Chia seeds are one of the richest sources of the plant-based form of omega-3 fatty acids,” says Sakimura, which makes them a healthy form of fat, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“I like to add a sprinkle of chia seeds into my oatmeal or cereal. You can also add them into baked goods or make chia pudding out of them by mixing them with a liquid, like milk, and letting them absorb the liquid overnight,” says McMordie. And don’t worry about them overpowering the flavor of your food. “The seeds are pretty much tasteless; you can get away with sprinkling them into almost anything,” says Sakimura.
Raspberries Are a Top Fiber-Rich Fruit
Berries are nutritional superstars — not only do they have antioxidants that may be beneficial for preventing inflammation, as Harvard notes, but they also come filled with fiber. What makes raspberries so special? They are one of the most fiber-packed berries.
“Raspberries and blackberries top my list for high fiber fruits,” says Moore. They have about 8 g of fiber per cup, according to the USDA, which is about 28 percent of the DV. “And they add sweet-tart flavor to smoothies and snacktime,” Moore adds.
Sprinkle them on yogurt for a fiber- and protein-rich breakfast that will power you through your morning.
How do I increase my fiber intake?
Here are some easy ways to increase fiber:
Grains and Cereals
- As a general rule, include at least one serving of whole grain in every meal.
- Keep a jar of oat bran or wheat germ handy. Sprinkle over salad, soup, breakfast cereals and yogurt.
- Use whole-wheat flour when possible in your cooking and baking.
- Choose whole grain bread. Look on the label for breads with the highest amount of fiber per slice.
- Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Keep whole-wheat crackers on hand for an easy snack.
- Cook with brown rice instead of white rice. If the switch is hard to make, start by mixing them together.
Legumes and Beans
- Add kidney beans, garbanzos or other bean varieties to your salads. Each 1/2 cup serving is approximately 7 to 8 grams of fiber.
- Substitute legumes for meat two to three times per week in chili and soups
- Experiment with international dishes (such as Indian or Middle Eastern) that use whole grains and legumes as part of the main meal or in salads.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fresh fruit is slightly higher in fiber than canned. Eat the peel whenever possible — it’s easier than peeling or eating around it.
- Have fresh fruit for dessert.
- Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juices. Juices don’t have fiber.
- Add chopped dried fruits to your cookies, muffins, pancakes or breads before baking. Dried fruits have a higher amount of fiber than the fresh versions. For example, 1 cup of grapes has 1 gram of fiber, but 1 cup of raisins has 7 grams. However, 1 cup of raisins or any other dried fruit has more calories than the fresh fruit variety.
- Add sliced banana, peach or other fruit to your cereal.
- Grate carrots on salads.
To find information on fiber supplements, please see Fiber Supplements.
How much fiber do I get from fruits and vegetables?
While all fruits have some fiber, there are some that are higher than others. Here are a few that have 3 to 4 grams of fiber:
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup strawberries
Raspberries are high in fiber, as one cup has 8 grams.
Here are some vegetable choices that have 3 to 4 grams of fiber:
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1/2 cup cauliflower
- 1 cup carrots
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1/2 cup squash
Fibre in your daily diet
Listed below is the fibre content of some example meals.
Fibre at breakfast
Two thick slices of wholemeal toasted bread (6.6g of fibre) topped with one sliced banana (1.4g) and a small glass (150ml) of fruit juice (1.2g) will give you around 9.2g of fibre.
Fibre at lunch
A baked jacket potato with the skin on (4.7g) with around half a can (about a 200g portion) of reduced-sugar and reduced-salt baked beans in tomato sauce (9.8g) followed by an apple (1.2g) will give you around 15.7g of fibre.
Fibre at dinner
Mixed vegetable tomato-based curry cooked with onion and spices (6.6g) with boiled wholegrain rice (2.7g) followed by a lower fat fruit yoghurt (0.4g) will give you around 9.7g of fibre. Bear in mind that fruit yoghurts can sometimes be high in added sugars, so check the label and try to choose lower-sugar versions.
Fibre as a snack
A small handful of nuts (30g), such as almonds, can have around 3.8g of fibre. Make sure you choose unsalted nuts without added sugars.
Total: Around 38g of fibre
Fibre on food labels
The above example is only an illustration, as the amount of fibre in any food can depend on how it is made or prepared and on how much of it you eat. Most pre-packaged foods have a nutrition label on the side or back of the packaging, which can include a guide about how much dietary fibre the food contains.