Dried fruits are an easy way to boost your fiber intake. They also are rich in vitamins and minerals and are healthy snacks that curb your sweet tooth. Eat 14 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, if you follow a rigid 1,800-calorie diet, you need 25 grams of fiber each day.
One-half cup of dried apricot halves offers nearly 5 grams of fiber for about 160 calories. Chop dried apricots to pair with chicken entrees. Dice dried apricots and toss them in salad, topped with grilled chicken. Or caramelize dried apricots with a touch of butter and brown sugar and drizzle the mixture over grilled chicken dinner. Even if you prefer to simply snack on plain dried apricots, you'll sneak lots of fiber into your diet.
Dried cranberries deliver 3.5 grams of fiber in a half-cup portion, but they are high in calories -- nearly 190 calories. This sweet yet tart dried fruit is often a staple in summer salads. Dried cranberries are just as delicious in turkey entrees and mimic the flavor of Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Another option: Toss dried cranberries into brown rice while it's cooking. The dried cranberries add sweetness, texture and additional fiber to an otherwise plain side dish.
Prunes, which are dried plums, further up your fiber intake. One-half cup of pitted prunes offers more than 6 grams of fiber for about 200 calories. Prunes are naturally sweet, so they make a tasty ingredient for baked goods. Boost the fiber content of your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe by adding diced prunes. Or sneak finely chopped prunes into brownies; the prunes will add fiber and sweetness.
One-half cup of tightly packed raisins provides more than 3 grams of fiber and about 250 calories. Raisins are a common ingredient in trail mix, but they're delicious by themselves. If you want something different for dinner, bake a pork loin with raisins. Coat the pork lorn, which is a lean cut of pork, with a touch of olive oil, dried thyme and cracked pepper. Poke small holes all over the pork loin and stuff raisins inside. Surround the meat with additional raisins, cover with foil and bake until thoroughly cooked. The raisins will plump up during cooking and make your pork loin tender and sweet.
While there are dozens of varieties of dried fruit, all full of fiber, you must carefully measure portion sizes. Snacking freely from the bag can drastically increase the calories in your diet. Many dried fruits are sweetened, further increasing the calories. Instead, opt for varieties that are labeled "unsweetened" or "no-sugar added." Read the nutrition facts label carefully. Sugar may be hidden as sucrose, dextrose or high-fructose corn syrup.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbohydrates
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Apricots, Dried, Sulfured, Uncooked
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Cranberries, Dried, Sweetened
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Plums, Dried (Prunes), Uncooked
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Raisins, Seedless
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.