Best and Worst Ways to Get Your Fiber

Adding a little roughage into your diet can help you lose weight—as long as your fiber source doesn’t sneak in sugar and salt

June 1, 2012
bowl of raspberries

As far as nutrients go, fiber has something of a rock star status. "It's a miracle carb," says Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, author of The F-Factor Diet. "Fiber acts like a sponge in your digestive tract, absorbing other molecules like carbs, fats, and sugars--along with all their calories--and preventing them from settling on your hips." However, just because a food boasts fiber, doesn't automatically qualify it as a superfood. (Search: What is a superfood?) Some sources pack secrets amounts of sugar--or include hardly any roughage at all. To help power your plate right, we've rounded up the best and worst ways to meet your daily dose.*

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*25 grams per day for women; 38 grams for men

Fiber One
Thomas MacDonald
Best: Original Fiber One

Breakfast is one of the most convenient times to sneak in fiber--and we're not talking about Metamucil, either. A half-cup of Original Fiber One contains only 60 calories but 14 grams of fiber--or 57 percent of your recommended intake. Don't want to consume a bowl straight up? Use the cereal as a crunchy yogurt topping or toss with some dried fruit and nuts as a trail mix. (Related: Healthiest Breakfast Cereals

Video: 1-Minute Breakfast Idea

bowl of granola
Mitch Mandel
Worst: Granola

Sure, granola has a health halo, but in reality, it's a ticking sugar bomb. Granola cereals often hide oils, sugar, nuts, and other fatty and calorie-laden ingredients. Plus the fiber content isn't that high. A half-cup averages 240 calories, 5 to 10 grams of fat, and just a measly 3 grams of fiber, says Zuckerbrot.

Need motivation to clean up your eating? Print this poster.

Best: Raspberries

Add some roughage to your plate with raspberries. One cup packs 8 grams of the good stuff. In general, fresh fruit is a tasty way to increase your fiber intake. Just aim for those that contain more than 3 grams per serving, such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, tangerines, and apples.

Slim Pickings' Choose Healthier Fruit

canned peaches
Worst: Canned Peaches

Since canned fruit is skinned, most of its natural fiber has been tossed as well. Add to that sugary syrup and your fruit has been transformed into a diet nightmare. Take Del Monte's Peach Chunks Yellow Cling Peaches in Heavy Syrup: A half-cup contains 100 calories, 23 grams of sugar, and just 1 gram of fiber.

Super Sugary Drinks to Avoid

beans and legumes
Thomas MacDonald
Best: Lentils and Beans

Think of them as Nature's fiber bullets. Whether used as a salad topper or pureed into a healthy dip, legumes are a perfect way to fill up on very little calories. "Lentils are the true winner in this category," says Zuckerbrot, "and contain the highest amount of fiber at 8 grams per half cup serving."

Protein-Packed Salad Recipes

baked beans
Mitch Mandel
Worst: Baked Beans

Yes, beans are chockfull of fiber, but you could do without them soaked in salt, brown sugar, and honey. While a 160-calorie, half-cup portion of Bush's Best Honey Baked Beans contains 6 grams of fiber, it also crams in 14 grams of sugar and 540 mg of sodium.

Secretly Salty Foods

Best: Fiber-Rich Baked Goods

With some simple swaps, cookies, muffins, and other treats can be bursting with fiber. "Switch from all-purpose white flour to whole-wheat flour, add oats to cookies, and punch up muffins with some walnuts, pistachios, berries, or raisins," suggests Zuckerbrot.

11 Top Food Swaps

brown bread
Worst: Processed Brown Bread

Don't be fooled by the coloring--just because a loaf is brown doesn't mean that it's a good source of fiber. After all, the brown coloring is just as often from molasses as it is from grains. Instead, look for bread that's labeled "whole grain" and contains 3 to 5 grams of fiber per serving.

14 Health Foods That Aren't

Antonis Achilleos
Best: Artichokes

As far as fiber is concerned, artichokes top our list of veggies. A medium-sized one has 10.3 grams of fiber, or 41 percent of your daily dose. (Going to town on a creamy artichoke and spinach dip doesn't count!) As a rule, vegetables contain a lot of roughage for just about 25 calories per cup of raw veggies or half-cup cooked.
The Worst Ways to Eat Your Veggies
A Fool-Proof Plan to Eat More Vegetables

veggie chips
Worst: Veggie Chips

The healthy sounding name is just a ploy: Vegetable crisps are more of a chip than a green, so you won't be getting too much of their fiber benefits. A 140-calorie serving of Veggie Crisps from Snyder's of Hanover contains only 2 grams.

Up next: The Worst Ways to Eat Your Veggies