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Easy Ways to Eat More Fiber

There are many ways to get more fiber.
There are many ways to get more fiber.

Fiber affects a wide range of things, including our appetite, digestion and mood. Many people don’t know that getting enough fiber daily can also lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and obesity. The problem many people have is figuring out where that fiber should come from.

According to the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, the amount of fiber you should take in varies by gender and age.

Women between the ages of 18 and 50 should eat a minimum of 25 grams of fiber daily. Over 50 drops down to at least 21 grams a day. Men between the ages of 18 and 50 should eat a minimum of 38 grams of fiber daily. Over 50 drops down to at least 30 grams a day.

Here’s your guide to those fiber opportunities. Every name that's highlighted with a link, will take you straight to a WeBeFit Recipe for that dish.

Eat at least one piece of fruit a day. If you drink fruit juices, replace them with the whole fruit. You dramatically cut down on the sugar and boost your fiber intake.

For example, a 12-ounce glass of orange juice has 167 calories, 31 grams of sugar and just over half a gram of fiber. Meanwhile, a large orange has 86 calories, 17 grams of sugar and 4.5 grams of fiber. That whole orange has half the calories, almost half the sugar and six times the fiber you get from the juice. Plus all the other vitamins and healthy antioxidants found in an orange.

You could put blueberries on some crepes, strawberries on French toast or mix kiwi in with your oatmeal. Whole raspberries go nice on salad, and cantaloupe can be made into soup. A banana is good after you workout, and cherries taste great mixed into a protein shake. That gives you a whole fruit option for every day of the week.

Switch out your snacks for more fiber-filled options. Air-popped popcorn is surprisingly nutritious, and it’s the perfect complement to a movie night or Netflix binge. Three cups of air-popped popcorn have only 93 calories, almost no sodium (you can season it with No Salt) and no sugar. Yet it has 3.5 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein.

Vegetables with dip or toast with toppings are good snacks too. Ten baby carrots with blue cheese dressing have 140 calories and 4 grams of fiber. Two slices of cinnamon toast with Splenda or stevia have just 142 calories and 6.3 grams of fiber.

Nuts and seeds are great grab-and-go sources of fiber, plus they’ve got heart-healthy fats and protein. You can put chia seeds in pumpkin pudding, flax seeds in protein bars or grab a handful of nuts for a mid-morning energy boost.

Leave the peel and skin on fruits and vegetables when possible. Take the skin off an apple, and a third of the fiber goes away. The same goes for sweet potatoes, cucumbers and eggplant. Guava’s, mango’s and kiwis should all be eaten with their skin on to boost your fiber intake.

Add beans and legumes to dishes whenever possible. Not only are they high in fiber, but many are also low in fat and high in protein. Instead of cheese dip, try hummus or cowboy caviar. Add black-eyed peas to boost the nutrition of pork stew, lentils in sausage stew and barley in a beef stew. You can even use chickpeas to make a flourless brownie.

Swap out the low fiber foods. Switch white bread for 100% whole-wheat or multigrain bread. Whole-grain or brown rice is better than white.

Remember, you shouldn’t keep eating everything you’re currently eating AND add fiber. Replace the lower-fiber choices you’ve made with higher fiber options so your calories don’t go up.

Increase your fiber slowly, over 4-6 weeks. If you pump up the levels overnight, you may experience abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea and gas as your body gets used to processing it all. Maybe add a piece of whole fruit each day the first week. Then change out your bread and rice the second week. Add beans to meals the third week and so on until you reach the desired amount.

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