5 reasons to eat fiber

Learn about the benefits of fiber. And find out what foods have a lot of it.

Man cutting up bananas and fruit to go in fiber-rich oatmeal

Updated on May 9, 2024.

Fiber is a nutrient that comes from plants. It is found in certain foods, including: 

  • Vegetables 
  • Fruit 
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Beans 
  • Whole grains, like oatmeal, brown rice, certain breads, and barley 

Food that have a lot of fiber often have other nutrients that are healthy, such as protein and chemicals that help repair damage to cells in your body.   

Fiber is good for you. It has a lot of health benefits. Eating foods with fiber can help you: 

  1. Lower your blood pressure 
  2. Improve your cholesterol levels 
  3. Feel fuller after you eat. This can help you eat less or lose extra weight 
  4. Digest more slowly. This helps keep your blood sugar levels steady 
  5. Reduce your risk for diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer 

Eating fiber also helps keep your gut healthy. Your gut is your digestive system. It is made up of your: 

  • Mouth 
  • Stomach 
  • Esophagus. This is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach 
  • Intestines 
  • Anus 
  • Other organs, including liver, pancreas, and gallbladder  

Your gut is also home to millions of bacteria. Not all bacteria are harmful. Some are very helpful. Eating fiber feeds good bacteria. It can also prevent bad bacteria from growing. This helps keep your gut healthy.   

How much fiber should you eat? 
The amount of fiber you should eat depends on your age. It also depends on your sex. Women and people assigned female at birth should get 22 to 28 grams of fiber each day. Men and people assigned male at birth should get 28 to 34 grams. 

Most people in the United States do not get enough fiber. This is because many people eat processed foods. These are foods that are changed a lot when they are prepared. Examples of processed foods include: 

  • Baked goods, like cookies and cakes 
  • Frozen pizza and other meals 
  • Cured meat, like bacon 
  • Snacks, like chips, crackers 
  • Fast foods 
  • Sodas 

Try to eat fewer processed foods. And try to eat a little more fiber each day. You can do this by: 

  • Choose whole wheat bread instead of white bread 
  • Have brown rice instead of white rice 
  • Eat the skin on fruit and vegetables, like apples, potatoes, and cucumbers 
  • Pick sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes 
  • Add beans to rice or other meals 
  • Snack on low-salt, low-fat popped popcorn instead of chips or crackers 
Article sources open article sources

Reynolds A, Mann J, et al. Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The Lancet. February 2, 2019. 393(10170); p434-445.
Mayo Clinic. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. January 6, 2021.
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Fiber. Accessed October 20, 2022.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Interactive Nutrition Facts Label: Dietary Fiber. Accessed October 20, 2022.
Allaband C, McDonald D, et al. Microbiome 101: Studying, Analyzing, and Interpreting Gut Microbiome Data for Clinicians. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. January 2019, 17(2), Pages 218-230.
Mezouar S, Chantran Y, et al. Microbiome and the immune system: From a healthy steady-state to allergy associated disruption. Human Microbiome Journal. December 2018. Volume 10, pp 11-20.
Guinane CM, Cotter PD. Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2013 Jul;6(4):295-308.
USDA. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. December 2020.
USDA Agricultural Research Service. Fiber intake of the U.S. population. September 2014.
Steele EM, Popkin BM, et al. The share of ultra-processed foods and the overall nutritional quality of diets in the US: evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. Population Health Metrics. 2017. 15, Article number: 6.
USDA. Food Search. Accessed October 20, 2022.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Interactive Nutrition Facts Label: Total Carbohydrate. Accessed October 20, 2022.

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