Some popular weight loss diets, particularly the keto diet and other very low-carb diets, tend to be devoid of high fiber foods.
However, there are many health benefits of foods high in fiber that you won’t want to miss out on.
Keep reading to learn about the different types of fiber, how much fiber you need daily, and high fiber foods that you can add to your diet.
In this guide, we will cover:
- What is Dietary Fiber?
- How Much Fiber Should You Have Per Day?
- Tips for Adding Fiber to Your Diet
- What Are High Fiber Foods? 14 Examples of Excellent High Fiber Foods
Let’s get started!
What is Dietary Fiber?
Dietary fiber is a form of carbohydrates found in plant-based foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. It may also be called “roughage“ or “bulk.”
There are two primary types of fiber, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, which behave differently in the body.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance. As it passes through your intestines and colon, this thicker gel can help “clean up“ your intestines.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the gel-like soluble fiber has many health benefits, such as nourishing the beneficial bacteria in your gut, inhibiting fat absorption, reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and helping you feel fuller longer. Soluble fiber has also been associated with lowering the risk of heart disease.
Studies show that pectin, a type of soluble fiber, can reduce blood sugar spikes after eating by slowing the rate of digestion and subsequent release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Soluble fiber also helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time because it slows the emptying of food from your stomach to your intestines for further digestion.Foods high in soluble fiber include oats, barley, psyllium, beans, apples, carrots, and peas.
Unlike soluble fiber, insoluble fiber does not readily dissolve in water.
Instead, it increases the bulk of your stool, making it easier to move your bowels and help move along the contents of your intestines to form stool.
Insoluble fiber is particularly helpful for people who suffer from constipation; studies suggest that the global prevalence of constipation is about 14%.
According to the Mayo Clinic, insoluble fiber can also be beneficial in cases of loose diarrhea or watery stools because it can solidify the stool by absorbing excess water and bulk up stool.
Some of the foods that are high in insoluble fiber include wheat bran, nuts, beans, and cauliflower.
Many high-fiber, plant-based foods contain a blend of soluble and insoluble fiber, and it’s important to get a balance of both in your diet since the functions and benefits of each type of fiber are different.
How Much Fiber Should You Have Per Day?
The Institute of Medicine reports the following daily fiber recommendations for adults based on age and sex:
|Age 50 or younger||Age 51 or older|
|Men||38 grams||30 grams|
|Women||25 grams||21 grams|
Tips for Adding Fiber to Your Diet
Even though it may seem like getting enough fiber in your diet wouldn’t be particularly hard since the daily recommendations for fiber are not particularly high, and many plant-based foods contain at least some fiber, many people struggle to eat enough fiber in their diet.
This is largely due to the fact that many adults fail to meet the recommendations for daily vegetable and fruit consumption, and most processed foods contain refined grains rather than whole grains, which strips away most of the natural fiber.
Other foods high in fiber, such as legumes, are not often consumed on a regular basis, particularly by omnivores following a typical Western diet.
For those not on the keto diet, here are a few tips for ways to increase your daily fiber intake:
#1: Add Fiber to Your Breakfast
Particularly if you are choosing a breakfast cereal or grain-based breakfast such as toast or pancakes, choose a high-fiber, whole-grain option rather than a refined flour or refined cereal grain.
For example, choose whole wheat toast over regular toast, opt for buckwheat or whole wheat pancakes instead of using white flour, and choose steel cut or rolled oats instead of quick oats.
If you are buying boxed breakfast cereal, look for a product that contains at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Alternatively, you can add fiber to your breakfast (yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, etc.) by adding a couple of tablespoons of wheat bran, chia seeds, or flax seeds.
If you are making a smoothie, protein shake, muffins, or pancakes, you can add a scoop of unflavored psyllium husks.
#2: Swap Refined Grains for Whole Grains
Instead of eating white pasta, white bread, refined cereals, white rice, couscous, etc., swap your refined and processed grains for whole grains.
Whole-grain foods will retain the bran portion of the grain, which is the component that is particularly high in fiber, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
Any bread, pasta, cereal, or grain-based food should have whole grain as the first ingredient and should contain at least 2 to 3 grams of fiber per serving, though more is better.
#3: Focus On Legumes
Legumes, which include foods such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas, are very high in fiber.
There are lots of ways to add legumes to your diet. You can add chickpeas to your salad, enjoy hummus as a spread instead of mayonnaise or low-fiber condiments, snack on edamame or snap peas, and add beans to chili, soups, or nachos.
Consider meatless meals such as lentil soup, split pea soup, black bean burgers, or lentil “meatloaf.”
#4: Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
It should come as no surprise that any nutrition tips will likely include the advice to eat more vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are not only high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, but they are high in fiber and water and low in calories, making them filling without significantly contributing to your total daily caloric intake.
You can really bulk up a meal in terms of its volume, nutritional profile, and satiety factor by adding vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, peppers, Swiss chard, kale, asparagus, onions, mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts.
You can also add fruit to breakfast cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, and even salads.
Toss vegetables such as cauliflower or spinach into smoothies, and add veggies to omelets or egg-based breakfasts.
You can also enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks, either plain or dipped in nut butter or hummus (in the case of vegetables).
#5: Choose High-Fiber Snacks
Choose snacks that are high in fiber, such as popcorn, hummus, edamame, fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, bean dip, and whole-grain crackers, instead of processed snacks like fruit snacks, applesauce, chips, and cookies.
#6: Use Bran
You can sprinkle wheat bran on cereals, oatmeal, casseroles, meat dishes, salads, and baked goods to increase the fiber content.
What Are High Fiber Foods? 14 Examples of Excellent High Fiber Foods
Here are some of the foods highest in fiber:
- Legumes: Beans are very high in fiber. For example, one cup (172 grams) of black beans provides 15 grams of fiber. This is approximately 40–60% of the RDA of dietary fiber for adults.
- Oats: Oats are high in soluble fiber because they are rich in beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been shown to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, improve blood sugar, and reduce your risk of heart disease. 1 1/4 cup (100 grams) of dry oats has 10 grams of dietary fiber, with 4.2 grams of soluble fiber, of which 3.6 is beta-glucan.
- Artichoke hearts: One half-cup of cooked artichoke hearts provides 7 grams of fiber.
- Barley: One cup of cooked barley has 6 grams of fiber.
- Flaxseeds: Each tablespoon of flaxseeds has 1.1 grams of soluble fiber.
- Chia seeds: One ounce has 10 grams of fiber.
- Brussels sprouts: Each half-cup (78 grams) of Brussels sprouts has 2 grams of soluble fiber and 4 grams of total fiber.
- Broccoli: One-half cup (92 grams) of cooked broccoli offers 1.5 grams of soluble fiber and 5 grams of total fiber.
- Avocados: One whole, medium-sized avocado has nearly 14 grams of dietary fiber or nearly half of your daily requirement.
- Sweet potatoes: A medium-sized sweet potato provides over 400% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin A, as well as roughly 4 grams of fiber.
- Raspberries: One cup provides about 8 grams of fiber.
- Apples: One medium apple has about 4.5 grams of fiber.
- Pears: There are about 5.5 grams of total dietary fiber per medium-sized pear.
- Prunes: A single 1/4-cup (40-gram) serving of prunes contains 3g of dietary fiber, which is roughly 12% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of fiber.
One important tip when increasing your fiber intake is to build up gradually.
Fiber can cause excessive gas, bloating, diarrhea, and digestive changes, particularly if you change your fiber intake significantly and suddenly.
It is also important to drink plenty of water when you consume high-fiber foods in order to help dissolve soluble fiber and move insoluble fiber through the digestive tract.
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