Focusing on Fiber in February

Focusing on Fiber

Publish Date January 23, 2023 5 Minute Read

While most Americans think they are consuming plenty of fiber, nearly 90% of women and 97% of men are not meeting the recommended intake according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines. Why is fiber important? Read on to learn why and how to incorporate more fiber into your diet.

What is fiber?

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate found exclusively in plants, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. While the body cannot digest fiber, it still serves several functional purposes to support our wellbeing. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber.

  1. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. This type of fiber can help to reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol) and aid with moving it out of our bodies. Soluble fiber foods include oats, beans, nuts, legumes, chia seeds, and apples.
  2. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. This type of fiber can promote movement through the intestinal tract which leads to more regular bowl movements. It can be found in whole grains, fruits with edible skins, vegetables, and brown rice.

How much fiber do I need?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that the average person should eat 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories. In other words, for someone consuming 2,000 calories per day, they will also want to get in at least 28 grams of fiber. Most adult women should aim for 25 grams of fiber and adult men should aim for 38 grams of fiber per day.

How do I shop for foods high in fiber?

You can find the fiber content of foods on the nutrition facts label under the title "Dietary Fiber." This is above the "total sugars" section and below the "total carbohydrate" line. When grocery shopping you may encounter products with fiber claims on the packaging. The claim “good source of fiber” implies the product contains at least 3 grams per serving, and an “excellent source of fiber” implies the product contains at least 5 grams per serving.

High fiber foods include whole grains, nuts/seeds, beans, lentils, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. See how much fiber your favorite foods have below!

Fiber‑rich FoodsAmountFiber Content

1 cup

9 g


1 medium

5 g

Apple (with skin)

1 medium

5 g


½ cup uncooked

4 g


¼ cup dry

3 g


¼ cup dry

4 g

Chia seeds

2 Tablespoons

10 g

Chickpea pasta

2 oz.

10 g

Black beans

½ cup

4 g


½ cup chopped

3 g

Air‑popped popcorn

3 cups

4 g

What are the benefits of a diet high in fiber?

Fiber has been studied for its impact on gut health, weight, cholesterol, heart-health, blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

  • Gut health - Many forms of fiber are considered prebiotics, which act as a food source for good bacteria (probiotics) in our gut and contribute to a healthier microbiome. Eating prebiotic fiber through foods such as bananas, oats, and barley can lead to having a happier and healthier gut. Speaking of the gut, a high fiber diet can help regulate bowel movements by providing stool bulk and moving foods through the intestinal track.
  • Support weight management - Eating fiber may can help maintain weight or promote weight loss since fiber aids in slows digestion. This can keep us full longer with less food, reducing portions and snacking throughout the day.
  • Improve heart health and diabetes - Greater dietary fiber consumption has been associated with a decreased risk for developing cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. It can help lower cholesterol and is considered an important nutrient for heart health by the American Heart Association. Since soluble fiber foods aid with the slowing of digestion and the rate of nutrient absorption, this can affect how quickly carbohydrates are absorbed into our system and can help with blood sugar regulation. This mechanism may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

How to incorporate fiber into meals

The best way to start adding fiber into your diet is through the foods that you eat. This can be done by gradually increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other fiber rich foods into your meals and snacks. For example, if you are making a smoothie or having yogurt, add two tablespoons of ground flax or chia seeds to it. This simple addition can increase your fiber intake by 3-10 grams. If you are making an egg in the morning, add a whole wheat English muffin and ¼ of an avocado which totals an added 7 grams of fiber to your meal.

You can also increase fiber by making simple swaps throughout the day. For example, instead of choosing a slice of white bread which has less than 1 g of fiber, try 100% whole wheat bread which adds 2 g of fiber to your diet. Even though this may feel small, it is the minor changes that can add up throughout the day to help us live a healthier life

When adding fiber to your diet, increase it slowly over time. Adding too much fiber quickly can lead to intestinal discomfort such as gas, bloating, and cramps. As you gradually increase your fiber intake, you also want to increase your hydrating fluid consumption and movement throughout the day.

Are fiber supplements safe?

While you can get your fiber from supplements, some fiber supplements can lead to more gut discomfort in individuals compared to fiber from food. Also, when you consume fiber rich foods, you get more bang for your buck such as a variety of other vitamins and minerals.

Wondering how can you add more fiber into your meals? For more advice on increasing fiber in your diet, schedule a Telenutrition appointment with one of our registered dietitians.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Fiber-friendly Recipes

Inspiration from our dietitians to incorporate more fiber into your meals!