14 High-Fiber Meals to Add to Your Diet (and Why Fiber Is So Great in the First Place)

·7 min read

You know that fiber is an important component of a healthy diet. But let’s be honest: Do you know what fiber is exactly? “Fiber is the non-digestible part of plant foods that is found in whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes, like greens, peas and lentils,” says registered dietitian Brynn McDowell. Dietary fiber is broken down into two main categories: soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and can be broken down by the good bacteria in our gut, and insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve and adds bulk to our stool, McDowell explains. Both are important, because fiber can help regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, feed the good bacteria in your gut, reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent constipation and help you feel (and stay) full. Read on for more about this essential macronutrient you, plus 14 of our favorite high-fiber meals to get you started.

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How Much Fiber Should You Eat?

Current nutrition guidelines say that women under 50 years old should eat 25 grams of fiber per day, while women over the age of 50 should aim for 21 grams per day. And yes, getting enough fiber is important. “Low dietary fiber intake can lead to poor digestive health, meaning increased risk for constipation, diverticular disease and hemorrhoids,” McDowell says. “Cholesterol levels in the blood can also increase, which can lead to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. A diet low in fiber typically means a diet low in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. In addition to being low in fiber, this can also mean a diet lacking in various nutrients, vitamins and minerals.” Yikes.

The great news is that adding high-fiber foods to your diet is pretty simple. For reference, one cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber, a cup of whole-wheat spaghetti has 6 grams and half a cup of black beans has 7.5 grams. “I recommend looking at your current meals and seeing how you can add more fiber into what you are already eating,” McDowell suggests. “For example, choosing 100 percent whole-wheat bread over white bread will increase the fiber content. Adding some fresh berries and sliced almonds to yogurt, putting a scoop of chia seeds or flaxseed into your morning smoothie or adding beans to soup or chili are all simple steps you can take in the kitchen to add more fiber to your meals.” When increasing fiber in your diet, do it slowly and make sure that you increase your water intake, too.

Ready to get cooking? Try one of the following high-fiber meals that are bound to keep you full.

1. Salmon Bowl with Farro, Black Beans and Tahini (27g Fiber)

Nearly every element of this recipe has fiber in it: The two tablespoons of tahini in the dressing have almost three grams of fiber, and the lettuce and avocado add another nice boost. It's pescatarian, dairy-free and high in protein to boot.

Time Commitment: 40 minutes

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2. Veggie Nicoise Salad with Red Curry Green Beans (7g Fiber)

Most salads are high in fiber, but this vegetarian riff on the French classic has even more, thanks to green beans. It also contains a decent amount of protein, thanks to the eggs and black beans.

Time Commitment: 1 hour

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3. Harissa Chickpea Stew with Eggplant and Millet (35g Fiber)

Millet is a relatively unsung fiber hero. This whole grain packs in 9 grams of the goods per 100-gram serving, and it’s as delicious as pasta—promise. Let it soak up all those spicy stew flavors and you’ll be hooked on this vegetarian, protein-packed gem.

Time Commitment: 45 minutes

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4. Chickpea and Vegetable Coconut Curry (32g Fiber)

Chickpeas are loaded with fiber and protein, and the more veggies you add to this dairy-free, one-pan curry, the more of the good stuff you’ll consume.

Time Commitment: 30 minutes

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5. Creamy Vegan Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Bake (11g Fiber)

Making it vegan with cashew cream instead of dairy adds fiber and protein to this decadent dish. Pine nuts on top offer an extra dash, too.

Time Commitment: 1 hour and 25 minutes

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6. Lemon Tahini Salad with Lentils, Beets and Carrots (19g Fiber)

The key to turning any salad into a meal? Lentils. They’re chock-full of fiber, which fills you up (as you now know). This vibrant dish is not only easy and dinner party-ready, but it's also vegan and dairy-free.

Time Commitment: 45 minutes

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7. The Ultimate Quinoa Avocado Bowl (13g Fiber)

By now, you’re probably well acquainted with our friend quinoa, and this pescatarian, dairy-free bowl is one of our favorite ways to eat it. It’s a seed (not a grain), so it has tons of protein while still packing an impressive amount of fiber.

Time Commitment: 45 minutes

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8. Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce (8g Fiber)

Made from buckwheat, gluten-free Japanese soba noodles are a high-fiber alternative to white flour noodles. Peanuts also contain a decent amount, as do peas. Need more convincing? One serving scores you 26 grams of protein.

Time Commitment: 25 minutes

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9. Buckwheat Gnocchi with Cabbage, Potatoes and Fontina (6g Fiber)

If you’re eager for an easy (yet impressive) dinner project, this homemade buckwheat gnocchi, made with creamy ricotta cheese, should be it. Potatoes are also a surprising source of fiber, with about 5 grams per medium-sized spud. Add cabbage and more greens to up the fiber even more.

Time Commitment: 40 minutes

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10. Avocado, Radish and Walnuts with Carrot-Miso Dressing (13g Fiber)

This composed no-cook salad looks like it came out of a restaurant kitchen, but it’s shockingly easy to make. The dairy-free recipe is naturally vegetarian, but you can substitute maple syrup for honey to make it vegan. Just grab your good knives, slice and assemble.

Time Commitment: 20 minutes

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11. Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Barley Risotto (10g Fiber)

In addition to being fiber powerhouses, mushrooms are low in calories, fat and carbs. So stuff those Portobellos with even *more* fiber in the form of creamy whole grains. One bite of this vegetarian, protein-packed masterpiece and you’ll forget you were aiming for healthy.

Time Commitment: 1 hour and 15 minutes

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12. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Nachos with Green Chili Salsa (10g Fiber)

Swapping chips for crisp sweet potatoes is a clever and tasty way to add more fiber, protein and healthy fat to a game day-worthy plate of nachos. Plus, the homemade tomatillo salsa and black beans offer even more fiber to the vegetarian dish.

Time Commitment: 45 minutes

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13. Spicy Chile Crisp White Bean and Barley Stew with Kale and Eggs (14g Fiber)

Chile crisp amps up the spiciness of this vegetarian, dairy-free stew that’s packed with fiber- and protein-rich ingredients. Add sides of edamame and brown rice to make it even more filling, or skip the eggs to make it vegan.

Time Commitment: 30 minutes

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14. Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers (7g Fiber)

The best meals come in edible bowls. These gluten-free, protein-rich stuffed peppers are super easy to make, and if you sub the white rice for brown rice or another whole grain, you’ll boost the fiber content to the max.

Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes

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