Let’s be honest. At some point, everyone’s plumbing gets clogged. It happens to the best of us. I always knew fiber was important in that department, but it wasn’t until my cholesterol started to rise that I learned fiber’s out-sized impact on our health.

How in the world could I, a person who eats no animal products (the only dietary source of cholesterol), and very little processed food (full disclosure: I have a weakness for chips), have elevated cholesterol? Genetics and aging are involved, but a nutritionist helped me see it wasn’t only what I was eating (e.g., saturated fat in luscious coconut milk curries), it was what my diet was lacking: fiber. Who knew?

The Influence of Big Agriculture on Our Diets

Over the last fifty years, Big Ag — well-funded, mega-corporations like the American Dairy Association and the National Cattleman’s Beef Association — have made us anxious about getting enough protein. Thanks to the billions they’ve spent on advertising and lobbyists (to influence farm subsidies and USDA food guidelines), the average American man now eats 30% more protein than he needs; women exceed it by 12%.

There are no Big Bean, Big Broccoli or Big Fiber lobbying machines or ad campaigns to counteract the meat and dairy industries’ messaging.

Perhaps that’s why you, like a whopping 97% of Americans, probably eat way too little fiber. What’s that mean for your overall health?

A meta-analysis of 200+ studies found that people who eat the recommended 25 grams of fiber a day (through food, not supplements) have lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugars, weigh less, and are significantly less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, strokes, breast and colon cancer.

The Health Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet

I certainly upped my fiber when I learned that. (And I got a tip from the nutritionist on how to make luscious curries with a healthy, coconut milk substitute that has zero saturated fat: NutPods Creamer. Neither I nor my husband could tell the difference).

Because I want you to be healthy, and for you to move through each day “smoothly,” I’m sharing a few of my favorite fiber-licious recipes. Give ’em a try. There will be both short- and longer-term benefits. (I’ve included the fiber content of one serving of each — keep in mind all you need is 25 grams a day).

Farro Artichoke salad

Meditteranean Farro Salad

Mediterranean Artichoke Farro Salad: Artichokes top the list of fiber-filled veggies, and farro is one of those often overlooked nuttily nutritious ancient grains. This bright, chewy salad is as perfect for lunch as it is for a cookout or potluck side. (Fiber: 17 grams)

Mexican Black Bean Burrito Bowl: Bowls are one of my favorite summery meals, clean eating at its best. The base of this bowl is fiber-rich quinoa. Any grain works (bulgur wheat and barley top the fiber chart). When I eat this at lunchtime, I skip the grains and go with a salad of whichever dark, leafy greens I have on hand. My favorite is a mixture of arugula and baby kale. Make a double batch of the lime crema, and you’ll find yourself drizzling on everything. (Fiber: 19 grams)

Lentil Ragu Spaghetti: With a few simple additions, it’s easy to turn run-of-the mill red sauce spaghetti into a fiber-licious party. This recipe may require you to shop for new ingredients (cheesy nutritional yeast and meaty liquid smoke), but I promise to suggest more recipes that will put them to good use. Use store-bought tomato sauce, and you can pull together this perfect weeknight dinner in 15 minutes. (Fiber: 18 grams)

White Bean Avocado Toast: Give your day a running start by topping your avocado toast with 1/2 cup of white beans. Didn’t think dreamy avocados could get even creamier? Try this, which will prove you wrong. (Fiber: 11 grams)

Marry Me Orzo

Marry Me Orzo

Broccoli Dal: Garam masala, mustard seeds, and cumin add warming flavor to this soothing red lentil curry. Tiny red lentils don’t require soaking, and cook quickly. I make this whenever I have a head of broccoli in my fridge and am not in the mood for another stir fry (or if the broccoli is starting to become flaccid, which has no effect on this recipe). It’s perfect for that person in your life who claims to dislike broccoli — the veggie is pulverized in a food processor before adding to the lentil mixture, so no one (but you) knows it’s there. (Fiber: 15 grams)

Marry Me Orzo: I don’t know where the craze for “Marry Me” recipes got its start, but they’ve definitely become “a thing.” This is my favorite, because it uses my new favorite pasta, chewy orzo, just enough sun-dried tomatoes to give it a nice tang, and a can of chickpeas for added fiber. If you serve it to someone you want to marry, be sure to post the results in my comments section. (Fiber: 11 grams)