Most Americans, 90 percent of us, are missing something essential in their diets: fiber. A Cleveland Clinic study suggests that a diet high in cereal fibers such as oats, barley, and 100 percent whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower triglyceride levels, improve glycemic control and help you lose weight.

“Yes, when you eat more fiber, you’re staying fuller, longer. It also helps to clean out the things that are kind of sticking in our bodies that make us unhealthy as well,” says registered dietitian Laura Jeffers.

Fiber is also linked to a lower risk of diverticulitis, diabetes and even some cancers. That’s because it speeds up the time it takes for food to pass through the colon and out of the body. This can help regulate blood sugars and keep gut bacteria at bay.

Women: Are you getting enough fiber in your day?

How to get more fiber in your diet

If you are trying to get more fiber into your diet, Jeffers recommends doing it slowly.

“If you’re starting to add fiber to your diet, you want to give your body a chance to get used to it. Initially, you may have more bloating or gas because you will have that feeling of fullness, but don’t let that discourage you,” Jeffers says. Over time, your body adjusts.

The following is a list of foods that can help you get enough fiber each day:

  • ¾ cup raisin bran (5 grams)
  • 1 red apple (3 grams)
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (3.2 grams)
  • lettuce and tomato garnish (.5 grams)
  • 1 cup air-popped popcorn (1.3 grams)
  • 1 cup spinach salad (1.4 grams)
  • 1 pear (4.3 grams)
  • 1 cup cooked long-grain brown rice (3.3 grams)
  • 1 cup cooked carrots (3 grams)
  • 1 kiwi fruit (3.1 grams)

Jeffers says fruits and vegetables are the best for you because the fiber they provide is in its natural form. When it comes to fiber bars or cereals, Jeffers says to look closely at the ingredients label to make sure there isn’t a lot of added sugar.

Fiber in your diet is important to being healthy and offers a lot of benefits. Eat it in good health.