One way to make sure you consume enough dietary fiber is to eat more plant foods. A high-fiber diet includes at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day and can help lower cholesterol, improve bowel regularity and lower your risk for developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. To get more dietary fiber, emphasize vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts in your diet.
Eat More Vegetables All Day
One-half cup of cooked broccoli provides 2.8 grams of fiber, 1/2 cup of cooked spinach supplies 3.5 grams of dietary fiber and 1/2 cup of cooked winter squash contains 2.9 grams of fiber. Vegetables are low in calories, and nutrients they provide include vitamins A and C and potassium. Get more fiber by adding spinach and mushrooms to your morning omelet, slipping grilled eggplant or zucchini slices into a turkey sandwich at lunch or mixing broccoli florets and chopped carrots into spaghetti sauce at dinner.
Get More Fiber With Fruits
A medium apple, 1/2 cup of blackberries, a medium banana and a medium orange each contain between 3 and 4 grams of dietary fiber. Mixing berries into cereal or yogurt to up your fiber intake. After meals, serve fresh fruit salads instead of cakes or ice cream for dessert. When you are hungry between meals, reach for some grapes or a fresh apple or pear instead of potato chips or cookies.
Make Legumes a Staple
Legumes, or beans, peas and lentils, are high in dietary fiber, and they also supply protein, potassium and iron. One-half cup of cooked navy beans provides 9.5 grams of fiber, while 1/2 cup of cooked lentils, split peas, garbanzo beans and pinto beans each supply at least 7 grams of fiber. Add beans to chili, make four-bean salad as a side dish or make a bean burrito with brown rice to incorporate more beans into your diet. Cook dried beans in unsalted water or select low-sodium canned varieties to limit your sodium intake.
Opt for Whole Grains
Whole grains contain the bran, germ and endosperm components of the entire grain kernel, while refined grains have their bran and germ removed. Whole grains are higher in fiber than refined grains because the bran contains dietary fiber. A cup of cooked oatmeal contains 4 grams of fiber, and a whole-wheat English muffin supplies 4.4 grams of fiber. Select whole-wheat bread instead of refined white, whole-grain pasta instead of white and brown rice instead of white rice.
Choose Peanuts, Nuts and Seeds for Healthy Fats
An ounce of almonds provides 3.3 grams of dietary fiber, while an ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 5.2 grams. Snack on peanuts, nuts or seeds or add them to salads to increase your fiber and include more heart-healthy fats in your diet. Select unsalted nuts and seeds to limit your sodium consumption, and choose all-natural peanut butter to avoid consuming trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Nuts and seeds are nutritious foods, but they are high-calorie, so eat them only in moderation to avoid unwanted weight gain.