Fiber — we know we need it, but even with all the high-fiber foods out there, most people are still deficient. Are you getting enough fiber?
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. (1) This is a big deal, because high-fiber foods may help guard against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS, obesity and help support a healthy digestive tract. That’s why eating a high-fiber diet full of high-fiber foods is so important.
Benefits of High-Fiber Foods
Many processed foods, including cereals and breads, have added fiber. These sources of fiber used in this supplementation are not the healthiest. In fact, just as with popular fiber supplements, many ingredients may be harmful to your health. So, as it is with all nutrients, it is much better to eat fresh foods, rich in the nutrients you need.
There are many lists out there of high-fiber foods; this list is focused on perhaps lesser-known fiber stars. All of the foods listed below are not just foods high in fiber, but essential nutrients that help our bodies thrive.
Total dietary fiber: 10.1 grams per cup (150 grams) (2)
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, avocados are packed with healthy fats that help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
2. Asian Pears
Total dietary fiber: 9.9 grams per medium pear (275 grams) (3)
Notable nutrients: Vitamin C, vitamin K, omega-6 fatty acids, potassium
Raspberry total dietary fiber: 8 grams of fiber per cup (123 grams) (5)
Raspberry notable nutrients: Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate
Blackberry dietary fiber: 7.6 grams of fiber per cup (144 grams) (6)
Blackberry notable nutrients: Vitamin C, vitamin K, omega-6 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, manganese
Blackberries are high in vitamin K that is associated with boosting of bone density, while the raspberry nutrition is high manganese levels that help support healthy bones, skin and blood sugar levels.
Total dietary fiber: 7.2 grams per cup (80 grams) (7)
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 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.
Total dietary fiber: 1.9 grams per large fig (64 grams) (8)
Notable nutrients: Pantothenic acid, potassium, manganese, copper, vitamin B6
Dried figs and fresh figs are a great source of fiber. Unlike many other foods, figs nutrition has a near perfect balance of soluble and insoluble fiber, and they are associated with lower blood pressure and protection against macular degeneration, in addition to the benefits of the fiber. Even if you don’t like dried figs, fresh figs are delicious and can be enjoyed on top of cereals, salads, and even stuffed with goat cheese and honey for a special dessert.
Total dietary fiber: 10.3 grams of fiber per medium artichoke (120 grams) (9)
Notable nutrients: Vitamins A, C, E, B, K; potassium; calcium; magnesium; phosphorous
Low in calories and rich in fiber and essential nutrients, artichokes are a great addition to your diet. Just one medium artichoke accounts for nearly half of the recommend fiber intake for women and a third for men.
Total dietary fiber: 8.8 grams per cooked cup (160 grams) (10)
Notable nutrients: Vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, thiamine, manganese, folate, vitamin A, protein
The humble green pea is packed with fiber and powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and phytonutrients that support wellness. Frozen peas are available year-round, making them ideal to incorporate into your diet. Lightly steam peas and add to soups and salads.
Total dietary fiber: 2 grams per half cup (80 grams) (11)
Notable nutrients: Vitamins A, C, K; riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, protein
In the southern part of the United States, okra is a staple, and for good reason. It is packed with nutrients, such as calcium, and is easily incorporated into soups and stews.
9. Acorn Squash
Total dietary fiber: 9 grams of fiber per cup (205 grams) (12)
Notable nutrients: Vitamin C, thiamine, potassium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium
Winter squashes, including pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash and acorn squash, are packed with nutrients and fiber. The nutrient-dense and brightly colored flesh is high in soluble fiber, which slows the rate at which food is digested, allowing for the absorption of nutrients. Acorn squash and other squash can be roasted in the oven and used as a substitute for white potatoes and other starches. They also make great soups.
10. Brussels Sprouts
Total dietary fiber:4 grams of fiber per cup (156 grams) (13)
Notable nutrients: Vitamins C, K, B1, B2, B6; folate, manganese
As one of the power-packed cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are one of the better high-fiber foods. Rich with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, Brussels sprouts support healthy detox and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
Total dietary fiber: 3.1 grams of fiber per cup (156 grams) (14)
Notable nutrients: Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium
In the US, turnips are underutilized. Packed with essential nutrients and a great source of fiber, turnips can be enjoyed raw or cooked.
12. Black Beans
Total dietary fiber: 15 grams of fiber per cup (172 grams) (15)
Notable nutrients: Protein, thiamine, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, folate
Black beans are nutrient-dense and provide great protein and fiber to your diet. The high content of flavonoids and antioxidants help fight free radicals, reducing your risk of some cancers and inflammatory diseases.
Total dietary fiber: 12.5 grams of fiber per cup (164 grams) (16)
Notable nutrients: Protein, copper, folate, manganese, omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids
Chickpeas have been enjoyed across the globe for thousands of years. They are rich in essential nutrients, including manganese. In fact, these small beans provide for 84 percent of your daily recommended amount of manganese per cup.
14. Lima Beans
Total dietary fiber: 13.2 grams of fiber per cup (188 grams) (17)
Notable nutrients: Copper, manganese, folate, phosphorous, protein, vitamin B2, vitamin B6
In addition to the outstanding fiber per serving, lima beans offers nearly 25 percent of the daily recommended iron for women. The manganese helps with energy production, and the antioxidants help fight free radicals. Lima beans are part of my healing foods diet plan.
15. Split Peas
Total dietary fiber: 16.3 grams of fiber per cup (196 grams) (18)
Notable nutrients: Protein, thiamine, folate, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids
Split pea soup may be an “old school” soup, but it should make a comeback. One serving of split peas contains a third of the folate recommended daily, in addition to over half of the recommended intake of dietary fiber.
Total dietary fiber: 15.6 grams of fiber per cup (198 grams) (19)
Notable nutrients: Protein, iron, folate, manganese, phosphorous
In addition to great fiber, lentils are packed with folate and are one of the top 10 high folate foods. Folate is essential for pregnant women, individuals with liver disease and people on certain medications. Lentil pilafs and soups are great way to incorporate this high-fiber food into your diet.
Almonds total dietary fiber: 11.6 grams of fiber per cup (95 grams) (20)
Almond notable nutrients: Protein, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, riboflavin, omega-6 fatty acids
Walnut total dietary fiber: 7.8 grams of fiber per cup (117 grams) (21)
Walnut notable nutrients: Protein, manganese, copper, omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, vitamin B6, phosphorus
While relatively small in comparison to some of the foods mentioned above, nuts are a healthy way to quickly increase your fiber intake. Almonds are lower in calories and fats than walnuts, while higher in potassium and protein. Walnuts, however, have been shown to improve verbal reasoning, memory and mood and are believed to support good neurologic function. (22)
Total dietary fiber: 2.8 grams of fiber per tablespoon of whole flaxseeds (10 grams) (23)
Notable nutrients: Protein, thiamine, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, omega-3 fatty acids
Tons of nutrients packed in a little seed, flaxseeds reduce cholesterol and help ease the symptoms of menopause. Grind in a small coffee grinder, and add to smoothies, salads and soups.
19. Chia Seeds
Total dietary fiber: 10.6 grams per ounce (28 grams) (24)
Notable nutrients: Protein, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids
Chia seeds are a true superfood that is easily incorporated into your diet. High in fiber and essential nutrients, they help increase energy, support digestive health and have many more health benefits. Like beans and legumes, some people may experience gas and bloating; increase water intake to help minimize these symptoms. For some individuals, soaking chia seeds may help to prevent these symptoms and aid in absorption of nutrients.
Total dietary fiber: 5.2 grams of fiber per one cup cooked (185 grams) (25)
Notable nutrients: Iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium
Quinoa is a truly remarkable seed that eats like a grain. All grains are high in fiber, but not all of them are packed with nutrition. It is quinoa’s amazing nutritional profile and the fact that it is easier to digest and gluten-free that push it over the ultimate fiber food edge. Quinoa is also high in other essential nutrients, such as iron, vitamin B6, potassium and magnesium.
Magnesium is one of the most underrated yet essential vitamins that both protects the heart and helps nearly every function of the body. Many people have a magnesium deficiency and don’t even know it. So, quinoa not only adds valuable fiber to your diet, but is a real superfood for many other reasons as well.
What Is Fiber?
After the discussion of the ultimate high-fiber foods, let’s take a look at just what fiber is. First, it is important to note that fiber only occurs in fruits, vegetables and grains. It is part of the cellular wall of these foods. Diets high in fiber may reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, according to several studies. (26)
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.
How Much Fiber Per Day Do You Need? Recommended Daily Fiber:
- Women: 25 fiber grams
- Men: 35–40 fiber grams
The vast majority of Americans get less than half of the daily recommended fiber. Without fiber, the digestive tract suffers and people may develop high cholesterol that could lead to heart disease — plus inflammation may increase in the body.
For individuals with digestive tract conditions, dietary fiber may help relieve symptoms. High fiber intake helps shift the balance of bacteria, increasing healthy bacteria, while decreasing the unhealthy bacteria that can be the root of some digestive problems.
It’s also possible to consume too much fiber, though it’s far less common than a fiber deficiency.
The Difference Between Soluble Fiber and Insoluble Fiber
Insoluble fiber’s job is to provide bulk in the intestines, while helping balance the pH levels in the intestines. It promotes regular bowel movements and helps prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and doesn’t ferment with bacteria in the colon. It is believed to help prevent diverticulosis and hemorrhoids, while sweeping out carcinogens and toxins from the system. Nuts, seeds, potatoes, fruit with skin and green vegetables are excellent sources, as mentioned above.
The job of soluble fiber is much the same, however it creates a gel in the system binding with fatty acids. Studies show that it prolongs stomach emptying to allow for better absorption of nutrients. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels for individuals with diabetes. It is present in beans, legumes, oats, barley, berries and some vegetables. It does ferment in the stomach, which can lead to bloating and gas. Increase these foods gradually, and drink plenty of water.
What Fiber Does for Your Body
Fiber helps regulate bowel functions, reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, and strengthen the colon walls. In addition, it helps in weight loss, management of blood sugar levels, and may prevent insulin resistance and associated diseases. (34) In addition, a recent study found that women who eat a high-fiber diet (38–77 grams per day) had a reduction in risk for developing ovarian cancer. (35)
The supermarket and drug store shelves are packed with fiber supplements, so the natural question is: Why not just take those supplements instead? Fiber supplements typically only contain a small fraction of necessary fiber, and the sources of the fiber are often suspect. Beware of any supplements that contain methylcellulose (synthetic cellulose), calcium polycarbophil or wheat dextrin, as they provide no food value or nutrients.
In addition, according to a study from the University of Maryland Medical Center, people taking some medications — including for diabetes, cholesterol-lowering drugs, seizure medications and some antidepressants — are advised not to take fiber supplements as it may interfere with the absorption of these medications and some minerals. (36)
The 20 ultimate high-fiber foods on this list are the best way to get the fiber you need. Incorporate fiber slowly, and drink plenty of water and non-caffeinated beverages to help the fiber do its job.
Recipes with High-Fiber Foods
To get all the fiber you need, try the following recipes that contain high-fiber foods:
- Start incorporating fresh avocado into your diet with some of these avocado recipes.
- Try my easy Blackberry Sorbet recipe.
- Try my Baked Brussels Sprouts recipe to incorporate these nutrient-dense vegetables into your diet.
- Try my Turnip Fries recipe — the taste and texture will delight you.
- Try my healthy black bean brownie recipe. It is a great way to increase fiber, while enjoying a treat.
- Try my easy hummus recipe that can be enjoyed for lunch, snacks or dinner.
- Try my Raw Walnut Taco recipe, and add almonds and nuts to cereals or enjoy as a healthy snack.
Final Thoughts on High-Fiber Foods
- Due to today’s lacking Western diet, it is estimated that the average American gets about half of the recommended amount of dietary fiber each day. This is a big deal, because high-fiber foods may help guard against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, obesity and help support a healthy digestive tract.
- Some of the best high-fiber foods include avocados, Asian pears, berries like raspberries and blackberries, coconut, figs, artichokes, peas, okra, acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, turnips, black beans, chickpeas, lima beans, split peas, lentils, nuts like almonds and walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and quinoa.
- There are many ways to incorporate high-fiber foods into your diet. Try some of my favorite high-fiber recipes mentioned above.
From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.
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