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6 Fresh Ways to Sneak More Fiber Into Your Diet

6 Fresh Ways to Sneak More Fiber Into Your Diet

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You know fiber is good for you and that you should get more of it, but do you know why? For starters, studies have shown that a diet high in fiber can boost heart health, reduce the risk of cancer, ease GI issues, and improve the appearance of your skin . More recently, an analysis by food journaling site MyFitnessPal.com found that the users who successfully lost weight ate 29 percent more fiber than those who didn't.

It's easy enough to stir a heap of psyllium powder (i.e. Metamucil) into a glass of water and chug it in the morning, but it isn't exactly delicious. (Psyllium is a key component in many laxatives, but can also be taken regularly as a digestive aid.) Instead, try these fresh, expert-backed ideas to up your fiber intake in a tastier way. (Check out these Healthy Recipes Featuring High-Fiber Foods too.) One thing to keep in mind, though: Increase the amount of fiber you're eating slowly. If you go from a low-fiber diet to a high-fiber diet too quickly, you'll probably experience bloating and stomach pain.

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Use Beans for Everything

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You probably knew beans are rich in fiber, but did you know just how much? One cup has 14 to 19 grams of fiber, which is 56 to 76 percent of the daily value, says Alexandra Miller, R.D.N., a corporate dietitian at Medifast. Take advantage of their fiber content by eating beans at every meal: For breakfast, mash up pinto beans and spread them on a tortilla with eggs and salsa, suggests Miller. You can also add them to salads and eat them in dishes with (or instead of) rice.

You can even add beans to smoothies. "Try mixing one-fourth cup of black beans into your next green smoothie for an additional three to four grams of fiber," says registered dietitian Rosanne Rust. The beans will add a creamy, rich texture. (Want even more meal ideas? Try these 9 Healthy Recipes That Turn a Can of Beans Into a Meal.)

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Find Treasure In Trash

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Don't toss those orange, clementine, or grapefruit peels just yet. Instead, dry them, then pulverize the peels in a blender or food processor until they form a powder. Toss a scoop of the powder into smoothies, yogurt, or tea.

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Appreciate the Little Things

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"Every bit helps, so don't dismiss simple things like adding chopped onions to your dishes, for example," says Rust. (A word about onions: They contain inulin, a soluble fiber that helps stimulate the "good bacteria" in your gut.) When you're making a salad or sandwich, check out your fridge's crisper and add in any veggie you find—even a single cherry tomato is better than nothing. (Need help sneaking veggies into your meals? These products can help.)

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Show Avocados (Even More) Love

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One full avocado contains a whopping 18 grams of fiber, says Miller! Slip a slice into your next sandwich, cut some up and add it to smoothies, mash some up with lemon juice and salt for a fiber-y salad dressing—the possibilities are endless.

Other heroes that contain more fiber than people realize include berries, pears, popcorn, and nuts, Miller says. Dried fruit too—but watch the sugar content with these.

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Spread It Out

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Your stomach can only use so much fiber at any one time, and adding too much to a single meal is a recipe for bloat and digestive upset. You probably don't want to be eating much more than half of the 25 grams you need per day in one sitting. Miller suggests aiming for at least five to seven grams per meal, and three to five grams per snack.

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Make It Work Harder

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"Fiber works best when the body is properly hydrated," says Miller. "Water helps fiber move through the digestive system." So for every fiber-rich meal you have, chug at least one glass of water. (Add that onto the list of reasons why drinking water helps solve any problem.)

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