According to dietitians, fiber is one of three major components in building a healthy digestive system (fluids and exercise being the other two). Leading health organizations recommend that both kids and adults should get about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories they eat. This works out to be about 19 grams of fiber per day for 1-3 year olds and 25 grams for 4-8 year olds. If you’re not into tracking fiber grams, don’t stress it, just make sure your kids eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day and they’ll likely be where they need to be fiber-wise.
The most obvious benefits of fiber have to do with digestion. When combined with good hydration, fiber keeps our digestive tract moving along as it should. Fiber feeds the good bacteria in our gut microbiome, which contributes to a healthy gut. A healthy gut is crucial for immune health, mood, cognitive health, sleep, and so much more.
But keeping us regular isn’t the only thing fiber is good for. It’s also filling, so it can help kids stay satisfied after a meal (less trips to the pantry!). A high-fiber diet can also help prevent heart disease and diabetes, as well as help keep kids’ cholesterol levels in check and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Here are some kid-friendly fiber-rich foods:
With 3.6 grams of fiber in one small one, an apple a day (with the skin on!) really does help! Add some peanut butter for another 1.6 grams of fiber and give your kids a treat they’ll love.
Pears are one of the leading fruit sources of fiber with a medium-sized one providing 5.5 grams. The skin contains the majority of the fiber, so leave it on for added flavor, texture, and nutrients.
Beans are a super-healthy fiber-rich food for kids to eat. A 1/2 cup of black beans and chickpeas both provide 8 grams of fiber. Go wild with pinto, black, kidney, and chickpeas in this delicious 4-bean chili.
4. Whole-wheat/whole-grain bread
With an average of 2 grams of fiber per slice, whole-wheat and whole-grain bread should be your go-to sandwich bread.
5. Sweet Potatoes
You don’t have to wait till Thanksgiving to enjoy sweet potatoes! With the skin on, a medium sweet potato provides 3.8 grams of fiber. Add some maple syrup, cinnamon, and nuts and you’ll have yourself an extremely tasty (and healthy) snack.
Raspberries are particularly high in fiber compared to other fruits. A cup provides an amazing 8 grams of fiber!
With 3.1 grams of fiber in a medium-sized one, a banana makes a great afternoon snack. Or grab some peanut butter and whole-grain bread for a delicious and nutritious sandwich.
A 1/2 cup of avocado provides 5 grams of fiber. They’re also rich in heart-healthy fats.
A cup of mango provides nearly 3 grams of fiber. If your kids are smoothie fans, mango makes an especially tasty choice.
Providing about 4 grams of fiber per cup (cooked), you can make oatmeal more appealing to the kids by adding things like cinnamon, maple syrup, and raisins.