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For being a part of food that supplies very few calories (0-2 calories/gram), fiber heavily impacts our health. In a recent (January 2019) meta-analysis, authors analyzed results from 185 observational studies and 58 clinical trials in the last 40 years. Their combined findings? High fiber intake results in a 15-30% reduction in chance of dying, either from cardiovascular related issues or other diseases.
A diet high in fiber also, on average, reduced stroke risk by 22%, Type 2 diabetes by 16%, and death from coronary heart disease by 30%.
These numbers aren’t small by any means, especially considering boosting your daily fiber intake is a fairly easy task. According to the meta-analysis, for optimal health at least 25 grams of fiber should be consumed a day. At an average of 15 grams, most Americans are only 10 grams of fiber away from getting these huge benefits!
But which foods are high in fiber, and what can you tweak in your daily routine to boost your fiber intake?
10+ Toppings for 10 More Grams of Fiber
1. Psyllium husk
What is psyllium husk?
As you might have guessed, psyllium husk comes from the “husk”, or the outer fibrous layer of the Plantago ovata plant’s seeds. It is the main ingredient in Metamucil, but consuming whole foods fiber may have bigger benefits than a slug of Metamucil. As an added benefit, psyllium husk can lower “bad” cholesterol. Gluten free.
A tablespoon has ~5 grams of fiber
How to use psyllium husk:
Toss a tablespoon on oatmeal or cereal at breakfast. Sprinkle it on your salads, blend it into your vinaigrette, or bread your fish or chicken with it instead of flour. If you’d prefer to drink your psyllium husk, it easily disappears smoothies and protein shakes. Otherwise, you can take it like a medicine, either in pill form, or just mixed with water (at least 8 oz). Make sure you swallow it all the way, though as it tends to soak up water and can be a choking hazard.
What is flaxseed?
Flaxseed comes from the blue-flowered flax plant, which grows in cooler climates. The plant’s seeds can be used for nutritional purposes, while its stalks can be used to make linen fabric. The seeds contain lots of nutritious goodies, as they are high in fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. They can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Gluten free.
A tablespoon has ~2 grams of fiber
How to use flaxseed:
Sprinkle it on breakfast, salads, smoothies, or use it in baked goods and breading.
3. Unprocessed wheat bran
What is wheat bran?
Wheat bran is a layer of the wheat kernel that is usually stripped off and thrown away in the flour-making process. It’s rich in minerals, has tons of fiber, and may have anti-tumor capabilities. Contains gluten.
A tablespoon has ~2 grams of fiber
How to use wheat bran:
Sprinkle it on hot or cold cereals, yogurt, or smoothies.
4. Chia seeds
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are an ancient grain, made famous in the modern world at first through the Chia Pet®, and later as a Functional Food.
A tablespoon has ~5 grams of fiber
How to use chia seeds:
While you can sprinkle them on all of the above suggested foods, chia pudding is unique in that it makes a tasty chia “pudding” or “bubble tea”. For pudding, add 1/4 cup of chia seeds to a cup of milk and/or yogurt of your choice. Add maple syrup or honey as sweetener (if desired), and vanilla, cinnamon, or cocoa powder for additional flavor. To make chia bubble tea, just add chia to a milk tea of your choice and wait for the seeds to “puff up”.
5. Step One Foods Anytime Sprinkle
What is the Step One Foods Sprinkle?
It’s a mix of almonds, walnuts, and dried fruit that results in high levels of whole food fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and plant sterols. It was designed to positively impact cardiovascular health, and has been proven by clinical research.
A package has ~5 grams of fiber, this is the only pre-packaged item on this list, so it doesn’t require any measuring!
How to use the Anytime Sprinkle:
Sprinkle it on yogurt, salads, or whatever you like.
6. Raspberries or Blackberries
4 grams in 1/2 a cup
How to use berries:
Eat them as a snack or sprinkle them on whatever you like.
7. Almonds (raw or butter-ified form)
~5.5 grams in 1/4 cup
How to use almonds:
Eat them as a snack or sprinkle them on just about anything sweet or savory.
~7 grams in half an avocado
How to use avocado:
As a unique, creamy ingredient, avocados can easily be used in sweet or savory settings. Guacamole (especially eaten with whole grain chips) can make a tasty fiber boost. Avocados on toast, or on any salad is delicious. For a dessert, try blending avocado with cocoa powder, vanilla, and maple syrup for a creamy pudding, or tossing an avocado half into your standard smoothie. You can even use them blending with fresh basil over whole grain pasta as pesto!
Black beans: 1/2 cup has ~7.5 grams of fiber
Baked beans: 1/2 has ~5 grams of fiber
Split peas: 1/2 cup has ~8 grams of fiber
Lentils: 1/2 cup has ~8 grams of fiber
How to use beans:
While you might not think of them as a salad ingredient at first, they make a great salad topping. They can also make a delicious bean dip or cowboy caviar. Don’t feel like chips are the only thing you can use with dips, though, dips can serve as a topping for veggies, too! You can get creative with lentils, too, by baking them into a crispy crunchy topping/snack.
10. Hummus (try w/edamame for a twist!)
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans: 1/2 cup has ~6.5 grams of fiber
Soy beans: 1/2 cup has ~4 grams of fiber
How to make/use hummus:
Hummus is crazy quick and easy to make. Blend cooked or canned chickpeas or soy beans with salt, generous dash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and seasonings of your choice. Plop it on top of whole grain pita, salads, or use it as a dip for carrots.
One pear contains ~6 grams of fiber
How to use pears:
Toss ’em in your yogurt, cereal, or on top of salads etc. They make a fine snack on their own, too.
One medium artichoke contains ~7 grams of fiber
How to use artichokes:
Thinly sliced, they can go top of salads raw. Artichokes can up the fiber content of your pizza pie, too. Whole roasted artichokes can make a tasty topping or side on their own as well.
The Final High-Fiber Steps
To reach optimal levels of fiber each day, you don’t have to do anything too dramatic. If you generally consume a low level of fiber each day, it’s best to ease into eating more fiber. If you progress too quickly (from 15 grams to 25 in one day, for example), you may have digestion difficulties. To give your body time to transition, try adding these fiber-rich toppings and snacks gradually. Make sure you also up your water intake to account for the new fiber in your system.
Just a few daily sprinkles can put you in the optimal fiber zone, and allow you to capitalize on fiber’s hugely beneficial affects. What are you waiting for? Get sprinklin.