Unlock Health: Best High-Fiber Foods Revealed

Fiber is naturally found in many foods of plant origin, such as whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It’s also available in whole grains used to make bread, pasta, cereals, crackers, and other products. Including fiber-rich foods has been proven to support overall health and help you feel full after eating.

Increasing your intake is easy once you learn which fiber-rich foods to choose more often. Keep reading to learn about the health benefits of fiber and what to buy the next time you go to the grocery store.

What is fiber?

Dietary fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate with two main forms: soluble and insoluble. Both are essential for optimal health, and many foods naturally contain both fiber types.

Soluble fiber becomes mushy when it is in liquid. You can easily picture this when you think of oatmeal soaking in milk or water. It congeals together and moves slowly through your digestive tract, absorbing some LDL cholesterol ('bad' cholesterol) that is removed via waste.

Insoluble fiber remains crunchy and is found in raw vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It adds bulk to stool and helps you stay regular, which is important for healthy bowels. Sometimes, insoluble fiber can be difficult to digest if you have a sensitive stomach, and you may feel better eating cooked vegetables over raw.

The importance of fiber in diet

Regularly eating fiber is beneficial for:

  • Managing cholesterol levels
  • Insulin sensitivity and stabilizing blood sugars
  • Helping you feel full, which may aid with weight management
  • Having regular bowel movements and decreasing the risk of constipation
  • Reducing your risk of colorectal cancer
  • Nourishing probiotics throughout your gastrointestinal tract

It’s incredible how nutrients in food, like fiber, can positively impact several areas of health. To experience these benefits, the current U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that female adults aim for 25 grams of fiber daily and that males need about 38 grams daily.

Some people may need more personalized fiber goals depending on their health goals. For example, people with type 2 diabetes may need more fiber to control their blood sugars better. A dietitian can help determine how much fiber you should eat.

Top 8 high-fiber foods for digestive bliss

Here are eight nutritious foods with fiber that taste great and will help you meet your daily fiber requirements.

1. Legumes

Legumes include beans (kidney beans, chickpeas, white beans, black beans, soybeans, etc.), lentils, and peas. These foods are rich in soluble fiber and very filling. You can add them to soups and salads or even use them in baking (like a black-bean brownie).

2. Berries

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are easy to find in most grocery stores and are all high-fiber berries. They can be purchased fresh or frozen, and you can sprinkle them into salads or on top of yogurt with nuts and seeds. Add a dash of ground cinnamon for extra flavor.

3. Avocado

Avocado is a creamy, high-fat fruit that’s also a rich source of fiber. One fruit has approximately 15 g of fiber (approximately half the recommended intake for most adults). Slice it onto toast, mix it into salads, or combine it with tuna instead of full-fat mayonnaise.

Some even make dessert with avocado by blending it with cocoa powder, milk, vanilla extract, and a small amount of maple syrup to create pudding.

4. Whole grains

Ideally, 50% of your carbohydrates should be whole grains. This carbohydrate source is rich in fiber and antioxidants. It also provides significant energy your body needs to function. Whole grains contain three parts: the germ, the bran, and the endosperm.

Some grains, such as oats, quinoa, teff, and bulgur, are naturally whole. To gauge serving sizes, follow the USDA MyPlate tool, which recommends filling a quarter of your plate with high-quality carbohydrates (like whole grains). Fill the remaining half plate with vegetables, some fruits (when appropriate), and the final quarter with lean protein.

5. Artichokes

Some people have never tried artichoke because it’s a bit labor-intensive to prepare. You need to steam or cook the outer layers so they’re easier to peel and get to the delicious core. Each serving has approximately 7 g of fiber and a mild taste comparable to other green veggies, like cooked asparagus. Once prepared, artichoke makes a great side dish or can be added to wraps and sandwiches.

6. Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds contain fiber, small amounts of protein, and unsaturated fats (considered healthy fats). A handful a day, or a quarter cup, is recommended for your overall health. Although nutrient-dense, they are high-calorie, and moderation should be followed when enjoying nuts and seeds.

7. Root vegetables

The prized, edible portion of a root vegetable grows under the soil. Examples include carrots, beets, potatoes, and others. Some root vegetables should be properly cooked before eating, and their starchy textures are great for classic comfort dishes like mashed sweet potatoes. For additional fiber, thoroughly wash your root vegetable, but leave the peel on when cooking.

8. Cruciferous vegetables

Crunchy, high-fiber cruciferous vegetables include cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and other hearty varieties. They can be very dense and chewy, and some people sensitive to FODMAPs (specific types of carbohydrates) may not tolerate them well, especially if served raw.

How to increase fiber intake safely

It’s important to gradually increase your fiber intake to decrease the chances of bloating, gas, or changes to your bowel movements. Your body needs time to digest and grow accustomed to eating more high-fiber foods.

Soluble fiber absorbs liquid, and you should have an extra glass of water when increasing your fiber intake. This can decrease the risk of constipation and help you stay regular.

To achieve ~30 g of fiber per day, you should aim for approximately 10 g of fiber per meal, which can be done when you select whole foods over ultra-processed products. You can also increase your fiber intake by making the most of your snacks between meals.

When planning meals, try to pick your high-fiber foods first. Choose one to two high-fiber vegetables and, ideally, a whole grain. Then, pick your lean protein and add ingredients for flavor, like herbs or spices.

The last word

Most adults could benefit from eating more fiber and should aim for 28–30g daily. Try adding some foods from this article to increase your dietary fiber intake, and remember to drink an extra glass of water to help keep stools regular and decrease the risk of constipation. Reaching your daily fiber intake will promote better digestion and contribute to overall health.

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