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. 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.
That’s why eating a high-fiber diet full of fiber-rich foods is so important.
What foods are high in fiber, and how can you be sure that you’re getting enough? Keep reading for the complete list of foods high in fiber, plus some easy ways to include high-fiber foods in your daily diet.
What Is Fiber?
Along with 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, it is essential to start slowly and increase gradually.
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, research shows that it supports blood sugar control and may prevent insulin resistance and associated diseases. What’s more, another 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.
Types of Fiber
There are two main types of fiber: soluble 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 and relieve 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 a few examples of nutritious foods high in this beneficial fiber.
The job of soluble fiber is much the same, however it creates a gel in the system by 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.
Some of the best high-soluble fiber foods include 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.
The supermarket and drug store shelves are packed with fiber supplements, so the natural question is: Why not just take those supplements instead? Even the best fiber supplements for IBS and other issues typically only contain a small fraction of necessary fiber, and the sources of 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.
Furthermore, people taking some medications — including those for diabetes, cholesterol-lowering drugs, seizure medications and some antidepressants — are often advised not to take any fiber supplement. This is because even the best fiber supplement could potentially interfere with the absorption of these medications and some minerals.
Adding a few of the best high-fiber foods to your diet is 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.
How much fiber per day do you actually need? The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 25 grams of fiber on an average 2,000-calorie diet.
However, the vast majority of Americans get less than half of the recommended daily fiber intake. 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.
Top 23 High-Fiber Foods
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.
2. Asian Pears
Fiber: 9.9 grams per medium pear (275 grams)
Notable nutrients: Vitamin C, vitamin K, omega-6 fatty acids, potassium
Raspberry fiber: 8 grams per cup (123 grams)
Raspberry notable nutrients: Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate
Blackberry fiber: 7.6 grams per cup (144 grams)
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 profile contains high amounts of manganese to help support healthy bones, skin and blood sugar levels.
Because they’re so versatile, sweet and delicious, berries also rank as one of the top high-fiber foods for kids and high-fiber foods for toddlers as well.
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: 1.9 grams per large fig (64 grams)
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 provides a near perfect balance of soluble and insoluble fiber, and they are even associated with lower blood pressure and protection against macular degeneration.
Even if you don’t like dried figs, fresh figs are delicious and can be enjoyed on top of cereals, in salads and even stuffed with goat cheese and honey for a special dessert.
Fiber: 10.3 grams per medium artichoke (120 grams)
Notable nutrients: Vitamins A, C, E, B, K; potassium; calcium; magnesium; phosphorus
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.
Fiber: 8.8 grams per cooked cup (160 grams)
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. Plus, peas are one of the few foods high in protein and fiber, which makes them an awesome addition to a well-rounded diet for maintaining a healthy weight.
Frozen peas are available year-round, making them ideal to incorporate into your diet. Lightly steam peas, and add to soups and salads.
Fiber: 2 grams per 1/2 cup (80 grams)
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. Okra nutrition is loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, and is easily incorporated into soups and stews.
9. Acorn Squash
Fiber: 9 grams of fiber per cup (205 grams)
Notable nutrients: Vitamin C, thiamine, potassium, manganese, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium
Winter squashes, including pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash and acorn squash nutrition, 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
Fiber: 4 grams per cup (156 grams)
Notable nutrients: Vitamins C, K, B1, B2, B6; folate, manganese
As one of the power-packed cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are one of the best high-fiber foods. Rich with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, Brussels sprouts nutrition supports healthy detox and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
Fiber: 3.1 grams per cup (156 grams)
Notable nutrients: Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium
In the U.S., turnips are often unappreciated and underutilized. Packed with essential nutrients and a great source of fiber, turnips can be enjoyed raw or cooked.
12. Black Beans
Fiber: 15 grams per cup (172 grams)
Notable nutrients: Protein, thiamine, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, folate
Black beans nutrition provides 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.
Fiber: 12.5 grams per cup (164 grams)
Notable nutrients: Protein, copper, folate, manganese, omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids
Chickpeas are one of the best foods high in dietary fiber and have been enjoyed across the globe for thousands of years. They are rich in essential nutrients, including manganese.
In fact, chickpeas nutrition provides for 84 percent of your daily recommended amount of manganese per cup.
14. Lima Beans
Fiber: 13.2 grams per cup (188 grams)
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.
15. Split Peas
Fiber: 16.3 grams per cup (196 grams)
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 definitely make a comeback. One serving of split peas contains one-third of the folate recommended daily, in addition to over half of the recommended intake of dietary fiber.
Fiber: 15.6 grams per cup (198 grams)
Notable nutrients: Protein, iron, folate, manganese, phosphorous
As one of the healthiest, cheapest high-fiber foods, lentils are a great option if you’re on a budget. In addition to providing fiber, lentils nutrition is packed with folate, and lentils 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 fiber: 11.6 grams per cup (95 grams)
Almond notable nutrients: Protein, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, riboflavin, omega-6 fatty acids
Walnut fiber: 7.8 grams per cup (117 grams)
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 nutrition is lower in calories and fats than walnuts, while higher in potassium and protein.
Fiber: 2.8 grams per tablespoon of whole flaxseeds (10 grams)
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)
Notable nutrients: Protein, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids
Chia seeds are true superfoods that are easily incorporated into your diet. High in fiber and essential nutrients, chia seeds benefits help increase energy, support digestive health and have many more health advantages.
Like beans and legumes, some people may experience gas and bloating when consuming them. Increase water intake to help minimize these symptoms.
For some individuals, soaking chia seeds may help prevent these symptoms and aid in absorption of nutrients.
Fiber: 5.2 grams per one cup cooked (185 grams)
Notable nutrients: Iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium
Although it’s technically considered a seed, quinoa is often used in cooking as a nutritious and delicious high-fiber cereal grain. All grains are high in fiber, but not all of them are packed with nutrition.
Quinoa nutrition’s amazing 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, and is considered one of the top high-fiber, low-fat foods.
Fiber: 3.1 grams per one medium banana (118 grams)
Notable nutrients: Vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese
Besides the high amount of fiber in banana nutrition, this delicious fruit also packs a punch by providing a host of other important nutrients as well. In fact, just one medium banana can knock out over one-fifth of the vitamin B6 you need for the entire day, which is an important water-soluble vitamin involved in protein metabolism, brain function and immune health.
Fiber: 8.2 grams per cup (81 grams)
Notable nutrients: Manganese, thiamine, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, iron, zinc
Not only are oats one of the best sources of fiber, but they’re also a superstar ingredient when it comes to heart health as well. This is because oats contain a special type of fiber called beta-glucan, which can help lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol to prevent fatty plaque buildup in the arteries.
Fiber: 1.7 grams per 1/2 cup cooked (85 grams)
Notable nutrients: Folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C
Beets definitely deserve a spot on the list of high-fiber, low-calorie foods thanks to their impressive nutrient profile and vibrant color. Beets are also loaded with dietary nitrates, which are beneficial compounds that can help treat hypertension to stabilize blood pressure levels.
Top 5 Benefits
1. Promotes Regularity
High-fiber foods for constipation move through the intestines undigested, pushing food through the digestive tract to help protect against constipation.
One analysis of five studies found that increasing your intake of fiber can be an effective strategy to help increase stool frequency and prevent constipation. For this reason, including a few ingredients on the high-fiber foods list for constipation is a great way to support regularity and keep things moving
2. Supports Weight Loss
Because they move so slowly though the digestive system, high-fiber diet foods are great for promoting satiety to help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
In fact, one study actually concluded that consuming more fiber was associated with a lower risk of gaining weight and body fat for women over a period of 20 months. For best results, be sure to include a variety of high-fiber, high-protein foods in your diet to help curb cravings and amplify weight loss.
3. Improves Heart Health
Upping your intake of fiber can positively impact several aspects of heart health. For starters, it can decrease levels of total and LDL cholesterol, both of which are important for promoting blood flow through the arteries by reducing the buildup of fatty plaque.
Research also suggests that it helps lower blood pressure levels, which can prevent hypertension and ease added stress on the heart muscle. Plus, a massive review of 22 studies indicates that a higher intake of dietary fiber may even be linked to a lower risk of heart disease as well.
4. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Fiber can help slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels steady between meals and throughout the day. Interestingly enough, one study in the Journal of Nutrition even reported that consuming plenty of high-fiber foods for diabetics could be associated with a 20 percent to 30 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
It could also help improve insulin resistance, which ensures that your body is able to use this important hormone efficiently to keep blood sugar levels in check.
5. Enhances Digestive Health
Fiber is absolutely essential for supporting a healthy digestive tract. One review published by the University of Kentucky found that including a few of the highest-fiber foods in your diet could potentially help protect against a number of digestive issues, including stomach ulcers, constipation, diverticulitis and hemorrhoids.
It could also prevent symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition that causes symptoms like heartburn, belching and nausea.
How to Get More Fiber (Plus Recipes)
With a little creativity, there are limitless ways to add fiber to your diet. To get started, set your day off on the right foot by enjoying a heart healthy, high-fiber breakfast.
In addition to whole grains like oats, brown rice or sprouted bread, other delicious options for breakfast foods with fiber include avocados, leafy greens or broccoli, all of which make great additions to scrambled eggs or breakfast casseroles. You can also use high-fiber fruits like berries to top off your yogurt, cereal or oatmeal to help dial up the health perks even more.
Alternatively, try whipping up some fibrous side dishes to accompany your favorite meals. Steamed broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts or stewed okra are all tasty options that can complement any main dish.
Enjoying high-fiber snacks throughout the day is another simple way to boost your intake. Kale chips, sweet potato fries, homemade trail mix or roasted chickpeas are a few ideas for healthy snacks that feature foods that are high in fiber.
Need some inspiration to help get you going? Here are a few recipes that will help you to add fiber to your healthy diet:
- Buddha Bowl with Flank Steak and Cashew Sauce
- Paleo Pancakes
- Black Bean Brownies
- Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Seed Pudding
- Beef and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
Risks and Side Effects
Although it’s important to include a good array of heart-healthy, fibrous foods in your daily diet, increasing your intake too quickly can cause adverse side effects like bloating, gas and stomach pain. Therefore, it’s best to slowly add more foods containing fiber to your diet, and be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent negative symptoms.
Additionally, be sure to get the majority of your fiber from vegetables, whole grains and fruits rather than over-the-counter supplements. Not only can these supplements interfere with the absorption of certain medications, but they may also come from questionable sources and contain unhealthy additives or ingredients.
When it comes to the ketogenic diet, there’s a lot of confusion about fiber. Many people wonder: Can you eat fiber on the keto diet?
Fiber is an important part of any diet, but going keto does require a bit more planning to include plenty of best keto fiber foods in your daily meal plan while still staying within your allotment for carbs.
Fortunately, there are lots of low-carb, high-fiber foods available that can help you meet your needs for this incredibly important nutrient. Some of the top keto foods with fiber include non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, coconut, broccoli and avocado.
Nuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds are a few other high-fiber, low-sugar foods available as well.
- Fiber is an important nutrient that helps move food through the intestines to improve digestive health and protect against disease.
- What foods are highest in fiber? Some of the top high-fiber foods include nuts, seeds, legumes, berries, pears and avocados, which are all ingredients that are especially rich in this essential nutrient.
- Research shows that including a good mix of high-fiber foods for adults could potentially help promote regularity, support healthy weight maintenance, improve heart health and enhance digestive health.
- Keep in mind that you should increase your intake of high-fiber foods slowly to prevent negative digestive symptoms like stomach pain, gas and bloating. Be sure to also drink plenty of water to keep things moving through the gastrointestinal tract.