Fiber is incredibly important. When a person includes high-fiber foods in their diet, it has many benefits, such as keeping the gut healthy, boosting heart health, and promoting weight loss.
It leaves your stomach undigested and ends up in your colon, where it feeds friendly gut bacteria, leading to various health benefits.
Certain types of fiber may also promote weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and fight constipation
You may already be eating high fiber foods every day. Or you may find that some foods you eat have delicious high fiber food alternatives. But do you know if you’re reaching the 28 grams of daily recommended fiber intake, every day? This high-fiber food guide can help you determine how much fiber you are getting. Taking Metamucil every day can also help ensure you get the recommended amount of daily fiber along with the high-fiber foods you add to your diet.
Without a consistent intake of healthy, soluble and insoluble high-fiber foods in your diet, you’ll experience dips in energy, have difficulty losing weight, and also increase your risk of diabetes and inflammation.
Due to today’s lacking Western diet, it is estimated that the average American consumes about half of the recommended amount of dietary fiber each day. This is a big deal, because high-fiber foods may help support a healthy digestive tract and guard against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS and obesity.
Keep reading for more high-fiber foods that you’ll actually want to eat. These high-fiber foods will help.
What Is Fiber?
Along with fiber and adequate fluid intakes, fiber is responsible for quickly moving foods through the digestive tract, helping it function optimally. Fiber works by drawing fluids from the body to add bulk to the stool.
When increasing dietary fiber in your diet, it is essential to start slowly and increase gradually.
So what are high-fiber foods? It’s important to note that fiber only occurs in fruits, vegetables and grains, as it’s part of the cellular wall of these foods.
Fiber helps regulate bowel functions, reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels and strengthen the colon walls.
In addition, it promotes weight loss, supports blood sugar control and may prevent insulin resistance and associated diseases. What’s more, a recent study found that women who eat a high-fiber diet (38–77 grams per day) may be at a lower risk for developing ovarian cancer.
When soluble fiber enters our digestive system, it dissolves in water and takes on a viscous, gelatinous form. This type of fiber is typically derived from the inner flesh of plant-based foods. In the large intestine, soluble fibers such as pectin (the same “pectin” found in jams and jellies), inulin, gum, mucilage, and beta glucan mix with partially digested foods to help them pass more efficiently.
Health Benefits of Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber promotes a healthy heart by regulating cholesterol levels in the body and by lowering blood pressure. For example, pectin helps limit the amount of fat your body absorbs from certain foods, while beta glucan is strongly linked to lowering bad cholesterol. Soluble fiber can also be very beneficial to those with type 2 diabetes by helping to lower and regulate blood glucose levels. A healthier blood glucose level may also lead to a reduced need for insulin in some diabetics.
What is Insoluble Fiber?
Insoluble fiber retains water once it enters the digestive system and sweeps waste through the large intestine. This type of fiber is derived from a plant’s tough, outer skin and is made up of cellulose and lignin molecules. Typically, you’ll find insoluble fiber in the skins of fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, and potatoes.
Soluble Fiber Vs. Insoluble Fiber
From apples to potatoes, every type of plant has a protective cell wall that provides shape and texture. Inside a plant’s cell wall are fiber molecules that strengthen and support growth. When the plant is eaten, these fibers enter our digestive system and become either soluble or insoluble. The main distinction between these two types of fibers is their ability to dissolve in water. While soluble fiber combines with food in the large intestine, insoluble fiber acts more like a digestive “broom.”
Health Benefits of Insoluble Fiber
Insoluble fiber prevents constipation and complications such as hemorrhoids by bulking up the stool, helping it pass more quickly through the intestines. Insoluble fiber may also help decrease the risk for colorectal cancer by speeding up waste’s movement through the digestive tract. The shorter the amount of time waste spends in your body, the less of chance there is for harmful substances to pass through your intestinal walls into the bloodstream.
What is Prebiotic Fiber?
Some soluble fibers such as pectin, beta glucan, and inulin are prebiotic, meaning they can be fermented into energy sources for the good bacteria, or probiotics, in your large intestine. Your large intestine houses more bacteria—both good and bad—than any other part of your body. Prebiotics keep bad bacteria at bay by feeding probiotics, which contributes to a healthier microbiome and better overall health.
Health Benefits of Prebiotic Fiber
Think of your relationship with your gut as symbiotic. Eat more prebiotic fiber to help the good bacteria thrive, and they will give back by providing key health benefits. Specifically, prebiotics such as inulin produce short-chain fatty acids that help the body better absorb essential minerals—calcium, iron, and magnesium. These fatty acids may also protect against inflammation, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk for colorectal cancer. Prebiotics may also help boost overall immunity.
High-Fiber Foods You Should Eat
Pears (3.1 grams)
The pear is a popular fruit that’s both tasty and nutritious. It’s one of the best fruit sources of fiber.
Fiber content: 5.5 grams in a medium-sized, raw pear, or 3.1 grams per 100 grams
Lentils and other beans are an easy way to sneak fiber into your diet in soups, stews and salads. Some beans, like edamame (which is a steamed soy bean), are even a great fiber-filled snack.1 There are 9 grams of fiber in a half-cup serving of shelled edamame. A bonus? All of these provide a great source of protein, too.2 Some bakers have even started including beans or bean flours in their baked goods, which research proves can still make quality cakes.
Navy beans are one of the richest sources of fiber. They are also high in protein. Add navy beans to salads, curries, or stews for an extra fiber and protein boost.
Fiber content: Navy beans contain 10.5 g per 100 gTrusted Source (31.3 percent of AI).
Pinto beans are a popular U.S. staple. People can eat pinto beans whole, mashed or as refried beans. Along with their high-fiber content, pinto beans are a great source of calcium and iron.
Fiber content: Pinto beans contain 9 g of fiber per 100 gTrusted Source (26.8 percent of AI).
Black beans contain good amounts of iron and magnesium. They are also a great source of plant-based protein.
If people who follow a vegan diet combine black beans with rice, they will be getting all nine essential amino acids.
Fiber content: Black beans contain 8.7 g of fiber per 100 gTrusted Source (25.9 percent of AI).
Mung beans are a versatile source of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B-6.
When dried and ground, people can use mung bean flour to make pancakes.
Fiber content: Mung beans contain 7.6 g of fiber per 100 gTrusted Source (22.6 percent of AI).
Adzuki beans are used in Japanese cuisine to make red bean paste, which is a traditional sweet. People can also boil these fragrant, nutty beans and eat them plain.
Fiber content: Adzuki beans contain 7.3 g of fiber per 100 gTrusted Source (21.7 percent of AI).
Not only are lima beans a great source of fiber, but they are also high in plant protein.
Fiber content: Lima beans contain 7 g of fiber per 100 gTrusted Source (20.8 percent of AI).
It takes about 9 cups of broccoli flowerets to reach the daily recommended fiber intake. High in sulforaphane, broccoli also adds 3.2 grams of fiber per cup. And it’s low in calories, so add an extra helping of broccoli to help reach your fiber goals.
These mini cabbages can be boiled, broiled, pan fried, or sliced up raw in a brussels sprout slaw. With 4 grams of fiber per cup, it takes about 7 cups of brussels sprouts to reach the daily recommended fiber intake.
Have you ever seen 83 asparagus spears on one plate? Probably not, unless it’s a family-style meal. That’s how many raw asparagus spears it takes to hit the 28 grams of fiber recommended for your diet. As an alternative to steamed asparagus try adding thinly sliced raw asparagus spears to salads or sandwiches for a sweet, crunchy flavor.
Artichokes taste great on pizza, paired with spinach in a delicious vegetable dip, or steamed to perfection. But can you eat 4 artichokes in a day?
Simply cut out the stem, scoop the seeds and bake until tender. Or prepare stuffed acorn squash using wild rice, quinoa, or ground beef. You’ll need to eat about 3 cups of acorn squash to reach your fiber goals.
This wintery squash not only features a subtle, sweet taste, but one cup mashed provides your body with 6 grams of satiating fiber. Plus, acorn squash is also an excellent source of vitamin C—one serving provides about 20 percent of your daily needs—which is important for your immunity.
Total dietary fiber: 10.1 grams per cup (150 grams)
Notable nutrients: Vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K, potassium
The fiber content of avocados varies depending on the type. There is a difference in fiber content and makeup between the between the bright green, smooth-skinned avocados (Florida avocados) and the smaller, darker and dimpled variety (California avocados).
Florida avocados have significantly more insoluble fiber than California avocados.
In addition to the fiber, they are packed with healthy fats that can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, among other avocado benefits.
Fiber: 8 to 16 grams per cup.
A standard serving size of steel cut oats is 1/4 cup, and a standard serving size of old fashioned rolled oats is 1/2 cup.
Start your morning off with 1 cup of steel cut oats, and you’re already at 16 grams of fiber, according to Feller. Add blueberries or strawberries to the mix for an added boost.
Strawberries (2 grams)
Strawberries are a delicious, healthy option that can be eaten fresh.
Interestingly, they’re also among the most nutrient-dense fruits you can eat, boasting loads of vitamin C, manganese, and various powerful antioxidants. Try some in this banana strawberry smoothie.
Fiber content: 3 grams in 1 cup of fresh strawberries, or 2 grams per 100 grams
Berries get a lot of attention for their antioxidants, but they’re full of fiber, too. Just a cup of fresh blueberries can give you almost 4 grams of fiber, and there is nearly the same amount of fiber in a cup of frozen unsweetened blueberries. Blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are also great sources of fiber. Of course, one of the biggest benefits of berries is that they’re naturally low in calories, too.
An excellent source of beta carotene and vitamin K, turnip greens have a mild flavor. They can be used like spinach and other leafy greens, blended into green smoothies, or juiced. It takes about 5.5 cups of turnip greens to reach your fiber goals.
Lightly steamed carrots will release more of their beta carotene, but, whether you enjoy them raw or cooked, you’ll get all the benefits of 4.68 grams of fiber in each cup. It takes about 6 cups of carrots to reach the daily recommended fiber intake.
Riced cauliflower is a popular low-carb alternative to starchy vegetables and can be made into pizza crust and chips. It’s great way to add fiber to your diet, but it may not get you to the 28 grams of daily recommended fiber every day. That would mean eating about 8.5 cups of cooked cauliflower, every day.
Having a snack attack? Instead of opening a bag of chips, why not reach for edamame? Edamame is a tasty, fiber-rich snack, boasting about 5 g per ½ cup, according to the USDA, which is 18 percent of the DV. “It provides the coveted trifecta of protein, fiber, and healthy fat in one package. Okay, lots of little packages!” says Sakimura.
There are more edamame perks: An article detailing findings from three past studies, and published in the March 2020 issue of Circulation, concluded that people who ate foods with isoflavones, like edamame or tofu, had a moderately lower risk of developing heart disease.
Enjoy edamame straight from the pod as an afternoon snack, order them as a side with your sushi or Thai entrée, or throw them in grain bowls and salads.
Fiber per 2 Tbsp (24 g): 8.3 grams
Anything with greater than 5 grams of fiber per serving is considered high. One ounce, or 28 grams, of chia seeds has double that amount! Sprinkle a spoonful of these nutrient-rich seeds into smoothies, yogurt, or on top of salads to boost your fiber intake and reap the digestive benefits. We’ve also curated the best chia seed recipes for even more ideas!
Total dietary fiber: 7.2 grams per cup (80 grams)
Notable nutrients: Manganese, omega-6 fatty acids, folate, selenium
Coconut products are growing in popularity, with good reason. Coconut has low glycemic index and is easy to incorporate into your diet.
With four to six times the amount of fiber as oat bran, coconut flour nutrition and grated coconut are great ways to add a healthy, natural fiber to your diet. For most baking recipes, you can substitute up to 20 percent coconut flour for other flours.
Fiber: 3 grams per 2 cups.
Kale is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and K, and can also add to your fiber intake. Eating 2 cups of baby kale provides nearly 3 grams of fiber.
Fiber: 3 grams per cup.
Just like broccoli, Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous veggie high in healthy sulfur and fiber (3 grams per cup). If Brussels are making you bloat, naturopathic doctor Kellyann Petrucci, M.S., N.D., suggests steaming them so they’re easier to digest.
Fiber: 6 grams per sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can promote gut health and regular digestion. Eating one sweet potato with the skin on provides almost 6 grams of fiber.
Bananas (2.6 grams)
Bananas are a good source of many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium.
A green or unripe banana also contains a significant amount of resistant starch, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that functions like fiber. Try them in a nut butter sandwich for a hit of protein, too.
Fiber content: 3.1 grams in a medium-sized banana, or 2.6 grams per 100 grams
Sweet potatoes, red potatoes, purple potatoes and even the plain old white potato are all good sources of fiber; one small potato with skin can provide close to 3 grams of fiber.18 The veggie has a bad reputation for running in the wrong crowds—fries and chips, to name a few. However, when not fried in oil and slathered in salt, potatoes can provide many benefits.19 Plus, the fiber in potatoes can help protect the intestinal wall from potentially harmful chemicals found in some foods and drinks
Nuts aren’t just a great source of protein and healthy fats—sunflower seeds and almonds each have more than 3 grams of fiber in a serving. They can help you reach the 25-gram intake of fiber recommended by the FDA for women and 38-gram recommendation for men.22, 23* Raw or dry-roasted nuts are preferred over the pre-packaged variety (which are usually cooked in oils that can add extra, unnecessary calories.)24 Even nut butters can pack a punch of fiber