There are two types of fiber – insoluble and soluble – present in food that both provide great benefits to your health. The main job of insoluble fiber is to clean out the intestines and colon to help eliminate waste and toxins in the body. This type of fiber adds bulk to your bowel movements which in turn collects and pushes out all the toxic buildup. Soluble fiber is designed to lower the “bad” cholesterol in your body (LDL) as well as help to prevent diabetes and cardiovascular disease by sustaining the appropriate levels of blood sugar in the body. Fiber in general helps keep you feeling full and thus aids in weight loss by making you less likely to overeat.
The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics recommends people consume at least 38 grams of fiber everyday. The following list details fiber-rich foods that will help provide your daily dose as well as other vital nutrients to keep your body thriving.
When people think of beans, most have an idea of increased flatulence and bowel movements. This is for good reason – beans are a great source of fiber and add beneficial bulk to our stools that help sweep out our digestive systems and keep us “regular.” Navy beans (19g) and black beans (15g) are among the top fiber-enriched beans in their food category.
Daily apple consumption is known to be beneficial for your oral health, but many people do not know that their main fiber content is located in their skin layer. Other fruits and vegetables that have edible skin peels also store most of their fiber content in them as well (i.e., plums, pears, peaches, parsnips, potatoes, etc.).
Whole grains seem to get a bad rap these days, but the main reason for this is that many store bought versions of whole grains such as breads, pasta, and rice are highly processed, contain unhealthy preservatives, and come from adulterated sources. If whole grains are consumed without these negative attributes, they actually contain many nutrients and are a good source of fiber. Cereals, crackers, and popcorn are also considered whole grains and therefore are also foods that can supplement your daily fiber intake.
Not only is spinach rich in iron, fresh or frozen spinach is another way to support your body with fiber.
Legumes are a broad food category that include items like lentils, peas, carob, soybeans, cloves, peanuts, alfalfa, and tamarind. These legumes are excellent sources of fiber and other non-animal based sources of protein. This nutrient profile makes them an ideal choice for vegetarians and vegans.
A classic vegetable source of fiber is broccoli. Even it’s brush-like structure gives us reason to believe it’s used to sweep our colon clean. Broccoli has roughly three (3) grams of fiber per cup and is also packed with vitamin C and K.
An adequate supplier of both insoluble and soluble fiber are flaxseeds. They also contain healthy fats that are good for your heart and brain. Dr. Axe is quoted saying that they help to reduce cholesterol as well as ease the symptoms associated with menopause in women. Flaxseeds make a delicious addition atop smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and fruit.
Carrots are not only good for your eyes because of their high levels of beta carotene, but they are also full of fiber. They can provide around six (6) grams of fiber per cup! They are a nice, crunchy snack or delicious addition to stews, soups, and stir-fry’s.
Although small, chia seeds are loaded with fiber. Just one (1) ounce of these mighty seeds boasts about 11 grams of fiber. One added benefit is they are basically tasteless – making it easy to add to an assortment of meals for the nutritional benefit. Chia seeds optimize digestion and promote smooth bowel movements. Aside from fiber, these tiny seeds contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals.
Quinoa is an excellent gluten-free substitute for pasta or rice in a meal. At six (6) grams per cup, quinoa is an adequate contender for fiber intake. It also contains a good amount of protein at eight (8) grams per cup as well as other essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium.
As a sweet, low calorie addition to many dishes, berries are a favorite among many people. Beyond berries’ impressive antioxidant content, they also are loaded with many vitamins and minerals. Raspberries in particular are notable for their amount of fiber, containing nearly eight (8) grams of fiber per cup while only being 64 calories. These beautifully red berries also contain anthocyanins and polyphenols which are anti-cancer and anti-inflammation.
A medium-sized sweet potato contains approximately 3.8 grams of fiber, making it a good option to consider as a side dish to a meal. Although it’s not advisable to load up on too much of any type of potato, fiber-rich options like sweet potatoes can actually aid in weight loss by keeping you feeling full for longer.
Like raspberries, artichokes contribute to your daily fiber intake without adding a bunch of unnecessary calories. One medium-sized artichoke contains about seven (7) grams of fiber but only 60 calories. They are delicious either steamed with some olive oil or butter and seasonings, or roasted in the oven. Eat the center artichoke heart in salads, on pizzas, or mixed into eggs.
Peas and Split Peas
Although small in size, green peas contain merely nine (9) grams of fiber per cup. They are an easy way to introduce more fiber into your diet because they can be added into a variety of dishes without standing out too much. Peas are also simple to use either fresh or frozen and do not take very long to cook. They are also notable for their vitamin A content that promotes healthy skin and eyes, as well as vitamin K for increased bone strength.
Like sweet potatoes and other fibrous foods, oatmeal is known for its ability to keep you feeling full and help you not indulge in unnecessary calories that could lead to weight gain. Amazingly, one (1) cup of raw oats contains 16.5 grams of fiber! Beta-glucan fiber which it contains absorbs water and thereby increases the thickness and volume of digested in the gut. This phenomena slows down digestion and nutrient absorption and thereby keeps you feeling full for longer periods of time. Oatmeal is also known for its ability to lower LDL aka “bad” cholesterol.
Although not the most popular vegetable choice, brussel sprouts can be a good source of fiber (4g/cup). Beyond just their fiber content, they also contain a natural chemical that helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer like other cruciferous vegetables. They are delicious when roasted in the oven with a little olive oil and seasonings.
Lentils are within the “legume” category mentioned above, but deserve their own spotlight! Lentils are a versatile food that can be dolled up in many different ways in a variety of dishes. They contain a whopping 15 grams of fiber per cup! Along with being a rich source of fiber, lentils also contain magnesium and folate. Folate is an essential vitamin for pregnant women, liver disease sufferers, and for people on particular medications.
Along with their headline healthy fat content, avocados contain a good amount of fiber. In fact, only half of one avocado contains 15 grams of fiber. For avocados with the most insoluble fiber content, consider choosing the Florida variety over the California type at grocery stores, though both are good sources. Their combination of healthy fats and fiber make them a powerhouse for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
You may have seen edamame served as an appetizer at most Japanese restaurants. This vegetable contains eight (8) grams of fiber per cup but only less than 80 calories. It is a great, healthy snack that also contains good sources of proteins and fats in combination with its fiber load.
Another delicious source of fiber, pears usually get overlooked in their potential to provide healthy sources of fiber and other vitamins and minerals. They should not be, however, as one medium-sized pears contains approximately 5.5 grams of fiber. Asian pears in particular not only have high fiber content, but also are loaded with omega-6 fatty acids that contribute to healthy cells, as well as optimal brain and nerve function.