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
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
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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.
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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
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.
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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."
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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