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Slide show: Guide to a high-fiber diet

Updated: 11-21-2012

Why eat a high-fiber diet?

A high-fiber diet includes beans and legumes

A high-fiber diet has many benefits, including normalizing bowel movements, helping maintain bowel integrity and health, lowering blood cholesterol levels, and helping control blood sugar levels. A high-fiber diet may also aid in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. This guide shows how easy it is to create an appealing high-fiber diet.

How much fiber do you need to achieve these results? The chart below shows the recommendations for adults from the Institute of Medicine.

Daily fiber intake

 

Age 50 or youngerAge 51 or older
Men 38 grams 30 grams
Women 25 grams 21 grams

Institute of Medicine, 2012

Jump-start your day

Granola with fruit and toast

Start your day with a high-fiber breakfast cereal — one with 5 or more grams of fiber a serving. Look for cereals with "whole grain," "bran" or "fiber" in the name. Or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal. Then add some fruit, such as berries. In fact, it's a good strategy to have fruit with every meal.

Keep the momentum going at lunch

Black bean burger

An easy way to bump up the fiber in your diet is to include more beans and legumes. At 15 grams of fiber, this tasty black bean burger is a smart alternative to a beef burger. Add a whole-grain bun (2 grams fiber) and a piece of fruit, such as an orange, for another 3 grams. Another easy fiber-boosting option is adding beans to salads and soups.

Pack a punch with dinner

Steak salad

As you plan dinner, keep in mind that fruits and vegetables should be about half your meal. The other half should be split between lean protein and whole grains. Salads are an easy way to accomplish this. This grilled flank steak salad with roasted corn vinaigrette has 10 grams of fiber. But if eating raw veggies isn't your thing, try adding cooked ones to sauces, soups and stews. For example, toss sauteed vegetables into your whole-wheat spaghetti. Have some fruit for dessert to boost the fiber count.

Don't forget the snacks

Mixed fresh berries

Make your snacks count. Berries are a great source of fiber. Of course, other fresh fruits and vegetables are high-fiber snack options, and so are nuts and low-fat popcorn.

Putting it all together

Yellow lentils with spinach and ginger

Here's a sample menu that shows how easy it is to include fiber in your diet. This menu provides about 27 grams of fiber.

Sample menu

MealFiber
Breakfast: Banana-oatmeal hot cakes 3 grams
Lunch: Yellow lentils with spinach and ginger 9 grams
Dinner: Black bean burgers 15 grams
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