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
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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
2/11 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
3/11 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.

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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
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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
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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
7/11 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

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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
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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

10/11 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
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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