Dietary fiber -- found mostly in whole grain, fruits, vegetables, and legumes -- is an essential part of any healthy diet. Although it's probably best known for relieving constipation, fiber may also help lower your risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, diverticulitis, and other digestive diseases. And since fiber also helps make you feel fuller longer, it can help you avoid overeating and gaining weight.
Choose Whole-grain FoodsStock-up on whole-grain breads, pasta, rolls, crackers, and cereal. Try to avoid white bread or any baked products made with white flour. Whole grain foods are less processed and therefore contain more of the natural nutrition found in the grain, including more fiber.
Have Fruit with BreakfastTry adding fruit, like raspberries or bananas, to your cereal, so you start off your morning with some extra fiber.
Add Veggies to SandwichesWhen making a sandwich, use whole-grain bread and lots of vegetable fixings -- lettuce, tomatoes, thinly-sliced cucumbers, and sprouts -- for added fiber and nutrition.
Choose a High-fiber CerealLook for cereals with "bran" or "fiber" in the name. If you don't want to give up your favorite cereal, add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to it.
Snack on VeggiesKeep cleaned baby carrots, celery sticks, and other vegetables in your refrigerator so you can grab them when you want a quick snack. Skip the dip though -- that way the veggies will stay low in calories and fat.
Add Veggies to Pasta SauceWhen you make pasta (a runner's favorite!) and top it with a red sauce, throw in onions, mushrooms, and peppers for extra fiber.
Snack on Mini PizzasMake mini vegetable pizzas as a healthy snack. Toast half a whole-grain English muffin topped with a tablespoon of tomato sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, and pieces of red and green bell pepper.
Eat BeansAdd beans such as lentils, black-eyed peas, lima beans, great northern beans, and chickpeas to your diet. Try to choose entrees that feature beans, such as tacos, chili, bean soup, and bean salads.
Choose Whole Fruit Instead of Fruit Juices
Even 100% fruit juices have little or no dietary fiber, whereas whole fruit is a good source of fiber.
"Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005: Food Sources of Dietary Fiber" U.S. Department of Health & Human Services web site. Accessed June 3, 2008.
"Fiber: How to Increase Fiber in Your Diet" American Family Physician. February 15, 2004.