Getting enough fiber in your diet can sometimes be a challenge. To figure out your fiber needs, take your age and add 5. For adults, it is about 20-35 grams per day. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are great sources of fiber. With a little imagination and motivation, adding whole grains, fruits and veggies in your diet can be fun and help lead to a healthier you!

What is fiber?

Fiber is the part of food your body cannot digest. Fiber has many important jobs in the body, such as:

  • Manage how your body uses food for energy
  • Helps you feel full
  • Helps control blood sugar levels
  • Relieves constipation
  • Protects eyesight
  • Protects against some forms of cancer
  • Keeps your heart healthy

Foods high in fiber are usually low in calories and fat. They are also packed with vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients.

What are the different types of fiber?

There are 2 types of fiber, which are:

  • Insoluble fiber is thought to reduce the risk of certain cancers, help weight control and regulate bowels. Examples are wheat bran, other whole grains, vegetables and seeds.
  • Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol, reduce heart disease risks and helps control blood sugar. Examples are oats, rice, barley, corn and flour products, as well as, some fruits and vegetables.

Both types of fiber are important. To get enough of both types, try to make at least 3 of your daily grain foods whole grain and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Important things to know about fiber

  • Eating lots of vegetables is a way to get in lots of filling fiber, cut back on calories and feel full and satisfied.
  • Your body digests whole grains slower than refined grains (such as white pasta, bread or rice). This means you feel fuller for longer. It also means your blood sugar levels stay stable.

High-fiber snacks to keep you full

Whole grains

Remember – One serving of a whole grain is 1 slice of 100% whole grain bread, 1 cup of 100% whole grain cereal or ½ cup of whole grain cooked pasta.

  • Air-popped popcorn, dry-roasted nuts and seeds, whole grain cereal, trail mix (made with whole grain cereal, dried fruit, sunflower seeds and almonds), multigrain or buckwheat pancakes, whole grain pasta, whole grain crackers

Fruit

  • Apples, blueberries, cherries, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, oranges, pears, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon
  • Add dried fruit (such as raisins, cranberries or apples) to high-fiber cereal, such as bran flakes

Vegetables

  • Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, dark green vegetables (such as broccoli, collard greens, kale or spinach), green peppers, mushrooms
  • Add seasonings or cheese for flavor

Red light foods

These are foods you can choose less often.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

  • White toast or white bagel with jelly
  • Sugary cereals
  • Hash browns or home fries
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Teriyaki or honey-glazed beef or chicken
  • White pasta with tomato sauce
  • Sandwiches without vegetables

Side dishes

  • Baked potato (such as red, Russet or Idaho potato)
  • Mashed potato
  • Fried or battered vegetables
  • White rice

Snacks

  • Movie popcorn
  • Doritos®
  • Potato chips
  • Goldfish®
  • Ritz® crackers

Drinks

  • Soda, sweetened drinks or fruit juice

Desserts or sweets

  • Baked goods, such as cakes and muffins

Green light foods

These are foods you can choose more often.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

  • Bialy
  • Yogurt with granola, fruit and/or nuts
  • Whole grain cereals (such as bran flakes, shredded wheat, oatmeal or Multigrain Cheerios®)
  • Multigrain toast or bagel with preserves, ½ teaspoon of honey or dressings
  • Sandwich with whole wheat pita, wrap or bread
  • Whole wheat pasta with sugar-free tomato sauce
  • Baked or microwaved potato or sweet potato
  • Steamed or sautéed chicken and broccoli
  • Grilled beef or chicken lightly seasoned or marinated in low-sugar dressings or preserves

Side dishes

  • Raw, steamed or stir-fried vegetable
  • Fresh, frozen or canned fruit in its own juice
  • Sliced vegetables on sandwiches
  • Pickles with sandwiches instead of chips or fries
  • Brown rice

Snacks

  • Pretzels
  • Bran muffin
  • Fiber bars (such as FiberOne®)
  • Graham crackers
  • Whole grain or whole wheat crackers

Drinks

  • Water, low-fat milk, unsweetened drinks or teas
  • Fruit juice diluted (watered down) with water

Desserts and sweets

  • Dried fruit with low-fat cheese and nuts
  • Fresh or frozen fruit
  • Sweet potato pie

Rev. 4/2019. Reviewed by the MGHfC Family Advisory Council. MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Massachusetts General Hospital do not endorse any of the brands listed on this handout. This handout is intended to provide health information so that you can be better informed. It is not a substitute for medical advice and should not be used to treatment of any medical conditions.