Fiber, found in cereals, vegetables, legumes and fruits, is important to any diet. Also called "roughage," dietary fiber comes from the indigestible part of plants and is not digested as it passes through the body.
While fiber may be famous for preventing constipation, it actually confers a wealth of health benefits on the entire body. Fiber helps you feel full longer after a meal, which means you eat less—and shed pounds without hunger pangs. Fiber also reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Of course, fiber also keeps your intestines healthy. Take up a high fiber diet and you might be surprised by how great you feel all-around.
It's particularly easy to consume copious amounts of fiber on a vegetarian diet. But meat lovers can get their fill of fiber too by eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
How much you should have:
All adults should consume between 21 and 38 grams of fiber daily, according to the Mayo Clinic. While women need 21 to 25 grams per day, men should get 30 to 38 grams.
Getting your daily fiber is a cinch if you know which food sources to look for. Eat a cup of cooked chickpeas (19 grams of fiber), a slice of whole wheat bread (3 grams of fiber), a cup of raspberries (8 grams) and a quarter cup of sunflower seeds (4 grams), and you'll have consumed a whopping 34 grams of fiber.