We see the store shelves lined with high fiber cereals, bread and meal-supplement bars. We know that as we age, we need to include more high fiber foods in our daily diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Eating more fiber might prevent stomach or intestine problems like constipation. It might also help lower cholesterol, as well as blood sugar.” Sounds good, but how do we know how much fiber we need? How do we know what to eat to get it?
According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), women should shoot for at least 21 to 25 grams daily. For men it’s 30 to 38 grams.* But the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services estimate that most Americans only average about 15 grams per day.**
Okay. That’s helpful because you can look at food labels, do some quick calculations, and you’re good to go. But consider supplementing those fortified foods (like bread, cereal and meal-supplement bars) with the real thing: fruits, veggies and legumes. Just remember that even in fresh foods, content fiber can vary due to age, shipping methods and home storage.
So according to the USDA, here are the top 9 foods you need to include in your daily diet:
- Split Peas: Now that we are squarely into fall, it’s time to get out the soup pot and start putting it through its paces. One cup of cooked split peas offers 16.3 total grams of fiber. Though you probably won’t consume a full cup of split peas in one serving of soup, even if you get a quarter cup, you’re still high on the nutritional scale when compared to a quarter cup of a lower fiber food. More info at USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council
- Lentils: These teeny tiny gluten-free legumes are not only fiber-rich but versatile. Check out Canadian Lentils’ website, for recipes like Banana Lentil Muffins and Chocolate Chip Lentil Cookies. One cup of cooked lentils serves up 15.6 grams of fiber.
- Black Beans: Whether it’s black bean soup, salsa, salad or dip, one cup of cooked contains 15 grams of fiber.
- Lima Beans: Are you detecting a pattern here? There’s lots of fiber in beans. Limas contain 13.2 grams in one cup of cooked.
- Canned Vegetarian Baked Beans: Before we leave the bean category, it’s important to note that even canned pre-cooked beans pack a powerful fiber punch at 10.4 grams per cup.
- Artichokes: Who would have thought? But it’s proven that 1 medium cooked artichoke contains 10.3 grams of fiber.
- Green Peas: One cup of cooked provides 8.8 grams of fiber.
- Raspberries: Another big surprise! But if you can stand crunching on those seeds, one cup of raspberries equals 8 grams of fiber.
- Whole Wheat Spaghetti: If you’re a pasta lover and just can’t give up on this carb, simply opt for the whole wheat version. One cup of cooked will give you 6.3 grams of fiber.
There’s lots to enjoy, and it’s easy to work these foods into your diet. Just throw some beans in your soup or mash them up and stir them into pasta sauce. Put them in salads, smoothies or even dessert. Get that calculator out and see how healthy you can be!
* USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, 2012, compiled by The Mayo Clinic
To do a complete search on the foods you eat, please visit this USDA website: