Foods high in fiber can help you prevent many illnesses and improve your health.
Looking to add more dietary fiber to your diet? Dietary fiber — along with adequate fluid consumption — moves rapidly and quite easily through your digestive system and helps it function properly.
Regardless of its popular association with trips to the toilet, fiber is no joke! The health benefits of an efficient bowel aside, eating foods high in fiber can help you reduce the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. Unfortunately, fiber intake is presently at an all-time low, with below 3% of people in the U.S. meeting the recommended intake.
Check out: Why is Slow Cooking Good for You?
Why We Need Fiber?
Fiber is something our body requests but never really digests—actually, it remains more or less the same from dish to the restroom. It comes in 2 varieties:
- Insoluble fiber, and
- Soluble fiber
Most plant-based foods have a combination of the 2. Insoluble fiber stays unaffected all the way to the colon, making waste softer and heavier so it could shimmy through the intestines easily.
Soluble fiber, on the other hands, turns to gel in the belly and slows digestion that helps lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Despite these differences, neither form of fiber is ever absorbed into our bodies.
Missing a daily dose of fiber usually leads to constipation that can make going to the toilet uncomfortable and painful – therefore, the term “backed up.” Consuming too little fiber could make it tough to control appetite and blood sugar since fiber regulates the speed of ingestion and contributes to satiety (feeling full).
On the other hand, eating too much fiber could move the food over the intestines very rapidly, which means less minerals get absorbed from nutrients. Moreover, it can also result in bloating, cramping, and gas, particularly when fiber intake is drastically increased overnight.
What Fiber Does for The Body?
Fiber helps to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol, regulate bowel functions, and strengthens the colon walls. Furthermore, it helps in the management of blood sugar levels, weight loss, and can prevent insulin resistance and other related diseases. Intake of dietary fiber may prevent disease and insulin resistance.
Foods High in Fiber
If you are not getting enough fiber every day, you might need to increase your intake of high-fiber foods. Good choices include:
- Whole-grain products
- Nuts and seeds
- Peas, beans, and other legumes
Processed or refined foods – such as pulp-free juices, canned fruits and vegetables, non-whole-grain cereals, and pasta and white bread – are lower in fiber. The grain-refining process eliminates the outer coat (bran) of the grain that lowers its content of fiber. Enriched foods have iron and some of the B vitamins back after processing, however, not the fiber.
Below, you can find the ultimate list of foods high in fiber that you can consume in order to boost your fiber intake and prevent illnesses.
|Fruits||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)*|
|Pear, with skin||1 medium||5.5|
|Apple, with skin||1 medium||4.4|
|Strawberries (halves)||1 cup||3.0|
|Figs, dried||2 medium||1.6|
|Raisins||1 ounce (60 raisins)||1.0|
|Grains, cereal, and pasta||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)*|
|Spaghetti, whole-wheat, cooked||1 cup||6.3|
|Barley, pearled, cooked||1 cup||6.0|
|Bran flakes||3/4 cup||5.5|
|Oat bran muffin||1 medium||5.2|
|Oatmeal, instant, cooked||1 cup||4.0|
|Popcorn, air-popped||3 cups||3.6|
|Brown rice, cooked||1 cup||3.5|
|Bread, rye||1 slice||1.9|
|Bread, whole-wheat||1 slice||1.9|
|Legumes, nuts, and seeds||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)*|
|Split peas, boiled||1 cup||16.3|
|Lentils, boiled||1 cup||15.6|
|Black beans, boiled||1 cup||15.0|
|Lima beans, boiled||1 cup||13.2|
|Baked beans, vegetarian, canned, cooked||1 cup||10.4|
|Almonds||1 ounce (23 nuts)||3.5|
|Pistachio nuts||1 ounce (49 nuts)||2.9|
|Pecans||1 ounce (19 halves)||2.7|
|Vegetables||Serving size||Total fiber (grams)*|
|Artichoke, boiled||1 medium||10.3|
|Green peas, boiled||1 cup||8.8|
|Broccoli, boiled||1 cup||5.1|
|Turnip greens, boiled||1 cup||5.0|
|Brussels sprouts, boiled||1 cup||4.1|
|Sweet corn, boiled||1 cup||3.6|
|Potato, with skin, baked||1 small||2.9|
|Tomato paste, canned||1/4 cup||2.7|
|Carrot, raw||1 medium||1.7|
*Fiber content can vary among brands.
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27
How Much Fiber Do We Need?
According to the Institute of Medicine that provides science-based information on matters of health and medicine, the daily fiber recommendations for adults are:
|Age 50 and younger||Age 51 and older|
|Institute of Medicine:|
|Men||38 grams||30 grams|
|Women||25 grams||21 grams|
How to Eat 37 Grams of Fiber Daily
When it comes to consuming enough fiber per day, most people fall short. However, it is easier than you think to consume the recommended daily amount. The following sample menu provides you 37 grams of fiber from delicious, simple foods:
- Breakfast: 1 serving of whole-grain bran cereals (around 5 grams’ fiber), topped with ½ sliced banana (around 1.6 grams’ fiber) and milk.
- Morning snack: ¼ cup of raisins (1.5 grams’ fiber) mixed with 24 almonds (around 3.4 grams’ fiber).
- Lunch: Turkey sandwich made with two pieces of whole wheat bread, plus tomato, and lettuce (around 6 grams of fiber total), and 1 orange (around 3 grams of fiber).
- Afternoon snack: A cup of yogurt and blueberries (around 2 grams’ fiber).
- Dinner: Grilled fish served with a salad made with shredded carrots and romaine lettuce (around 2.7 grams of fiber), plus ½ cup of lentils (around 7.4 grams of fiber) and ½ cup of cooked spinach (2.2 grams of fiber).
- After-dinner treat: Three cups popped popcorn (around 3.4 grams of fiber).
Health Benefits of a High-fiber Diet
A high-fiber diet has numerous benefits that include:
- Help maintain bowel health
A high-fiber diet could lower the risk of developing small pouches in the colon and hemorrhoids. Some fiber is stirred up in the colon. Scientists are looking at how this could play a role in preventing illnesses of the colon.
- Normalizes bowel movements
Fiber softens your stool and increases its size and weight. A bulky stool is very easy to pass, reducing the chance of constipation. If you have watery and loose stools, dietary fiber can help to solidify the stool since it absorbs water and enhances bulk to stool.
- Assists in achieving healthy weight
Foods high in fiber have a tendency to be more filling that foods low in fiber. Therefore, you’re likely to consume less and stay satisfied much longer. Plus, high-fiber foods have a tendency to be less “energy dense” and to take longer to eat, which means they have fewer calories for the same bulk of the food.
- Helps control levels of blood sugar
In individuals with diabetes, fiber – especially soluble fiber – could slow the sugar absorption and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet which includes insoluble fiber can also prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Lowers levels of cholesterol
Soluble fiber found in oat bran, oats, beans, and flaxseed can help lower levels of cholesterol by lowering “bad” cholesterol levels. Research also have found that foods high in fiber can have other heart-health benefits, like reducing inflammation and blood pressure.
Prevention of colorectal cancer is just another great benefit attributed to dietary fiber. Though, the evidence that fiber decreases colorectal cancer is varied.
Tricky Tips to Add More Fiber to Any Meal
- Chia seeds contain a whopping 5.6 grams’ fiber per tbsp. When they meet with some water, these seeds form a goopy gel which is great for making healthy puddings, thickening smoothies, or replacing eggs in cookies and cakes.
- While carrots and spinach are not as high in fiber as the vegetables mentioned above, they could easily be grated or sliced and snuck into various meals without much hassle: add some to banana bread, eggs, shakes, or homemade pizza base. Here is a delicious pizza recipe that you can try: Mediterranean Pizza Recipe
- Add flaxseed meal to baked goods, yogurt, smoothies, and oats – you can even try breading fish or chicken with it. A 2 tbsp. serving has 3.8 grams of fiber and a dose of Omega-3s to boot.
- Food processors and blenders are fiber’s best friends! Puree some cooked veggies and include them in stews and sauces, or substitute rice for chopped-up cauliflower.
See also: Chia Seeds Benefits, Uses, and Recipes
Fiber can cut cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, and can even help you avoid hemorrhoids and prevent colon cancer. However, few people are getting enough foods high in fiber.
Women should get around 25 grams per day and men from 35 to 40, though, the average person gets only 15 grams a day. Consuming fiber-rich foods—not only foods which tout “added fiber” – is the ideal way to improve your fiber intake.
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