Plus, learn how much fiber you really need.

By Kelly Vaughan
December 02, 2020
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Most people know that fiber intake is an important component of a healthy diet, but do you understand what makes fiber so important? It's simple, say our experts. "Fiber helps regulate the body's use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check," Wintana Kiros, RDN, LDN, of Reset Lifestyle, explains. Plus, fiber can aid in weight management by making you feel fuller faster and can improve bowel movements.

Broccoli and Ranch Dip
Credit: Yuki Sugiura

There are two kinds of fiber that you should consume: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, is found in bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils. Insoluble fiber, which aids in regular bowel movements, is found in foods such as wheat, bran, vegetables, and whole grain. Each type of fiber can improve your overall health and, when consumed together, can provide even more of a boost. Ahead, we explain how much fiber you need daily and the best (and most delicious!) sources for increasing your intake at dinnertime.

How Much Fiber Do I Need?

Men and women need different amounts of fiber, and the quantity they should consume further depends on their age. "I advise my clients to aim between 8-10 grams of fiber intake during each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) to help them break up their daily fiber provisions into more manageable portions," says Kiros. Men under 50 should aim for 38 grams of fiber per day; men over 51 should aim for 30 grams of fiber; women under the age of 50 should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day; and women older than 51 should intake 21 grams.

"When consuming fruits and vegetables, fiber comes hand in hand with micronutrients, minerals, and vitamins (e.g. potassium)," says nutritionist Maya Feller MS, RD. From green vegetables like broccoli and green peas to hearty grains like barley and quinoa, there are a number of high-fiber foods that you should incorporate into your dinner routine, including broccoli, peas, black beans, and more.

Broccoli

"This vegetable is multifaceted when it comes to preparation. Even better, it contains about five grams of fiber per one cooked cup," says Feller. For dinner, serve Roasted Broccoli with Seeds and Feta as a side dish alongside veggie burgers, seafood, or grilled meat. Looking for a main course? Your family will love stir-fried Beef and Broccoli with Black-Bean Garlic Sauce or Broccoli, Lemon, and Gouda Pizzas. Another pleasing but simple dinner is our One-Pot Pasta with Broccoli and Lemon.

Green Peas

"Peas are a small but mighty nutrient-dense food," says Feller. One-half cup of cooked frozen green peas contains 4.4 grams of fiber. Mix green peas into our take on Shrimp Chow Mein, this Cream-Free Shrimp Alfredo, or Roasted-Chicken Bread Salad with Peas. For something lighter, prepare this vibrant salad recipe—Little Gems, Asparagus, and Peas with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette. Or try the less fibrous, but still nutritious sugar snap peas, which shine in this uber-comforting Shrimp with Spicy Green Rice.

Lentils

One-half cup of cooked lentils contains 7.8 grams of fiber and is particularly rich in soluble fiber, which aids in digestion and helps to remove cholesterol from your body. Serve them for dinner in this Vegan Lentil Soup, our Warm Lentil Salad with Poached Eggs, or this cozy Lentil Soup with Crispy Kale.

Black Beans

Black beans are a protein powerhouse and they're also packed with fiber—approximately 15 grams of fiber per cup of cooked beans. They're the star of the show in Vegetable and Black-Bean Fried Rice, Smoky Tofu Chili, and this Healthy Chicken Burrito Bowl—all of which are delicious dinner recipes to feed to your family.

Barley and Quinoa

Power to the seeds and grains! One cup of cooked quinoa offers 5.2 grams of fiber per serving and one cup of cooked barley contains approximately six grams per serving. Quinoa is used in this Black-Bean and Sweet-Potato Stew (which gets a double dose of fiber with black beans, too) or cozy up with our healthy take on Quinoa Fried Rice. Barley is incorporated into this vibrant Split-Pea Soup with Spinach and Barley, as well as this Barley Risotto with Mushrooms and Dill.

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