Do you know the best high fiber foods and how to get more fiber into your diet? We have some answers for you.
Where do you get your fiber? You probably know you should be eating more fiber; we hear it all the time. In fact, fiber for weight loss is a popular tip for dropping pounds. Yet fiber has many other well-documented benefits: it reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, balances blood sugar, and keeps you regular. It can even boost your energy and give your skin that luminous glow. But how do you know if you're getting enough? And what are the best high fiber foods?
Magazine ads and TV commercials can be so misleading. They perpetuate the notion that fiber products are bland and come with a cardboard texture. Unless, of course, you discover their alternative: a sugar- and additive-laden cereal or fiber bar that will tempt your taste buds and let you believe you've made a healthy choice.
The low down on high fiber
Let's take a look at the ingredient list of a FiberPlus chewy bar. Bold lettering on its package touts the "35% of your daily fiber" that one bar provides, but the finer print reveals so much more. Here you will find sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and maltodextrin all in the first 10 ingredients. Even top-selling Metamucil contains aspartame and artificial flavors and colors. Of course, all this sugar and artificial flavoring will make these products taste great, but who said natural foods with lots of fiber can't be delicious too?
Basically, fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods, and all plant foods contain some amount. Fiber absorbs water in the intestines and swells, which increases bulk, forms stool and helps keep your digestive tract moving. The hard fibrous bits of insoluble fiber "scrub" the intestinal wall and keep your colon clean. Eat enough fiber and constipation can be a thing of the past! The same goes for fiber and diarrhea. These scrubbing actions promote healthy elimination which in turn will maximize nutrient absorption, support weight loss, and reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Recommended daily intake of fiber for an adult ranges from 25-38 grams per day. The average North American consumes less than half of that. Sadly, people often look for a quick fix in the form of laxatives or fiber supplements. The real solution is to increase your intake of plant foods. Whole food sources are always preferred as they will contain the minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients that supplements will lack. Getting enough fiber isn't as hard (or as bland) as you might think. On the contrary, it's about color, flavor, and variety!
Fruits that are high in fiber
Both fresh and dried fruits are great sources of fiber. Whole fruits are always better than fruit juice for fiber content, so choose food over juice. Among the fruits that are high in fiber are the following:
- Passion fruit
- Dried peaches
- Dried bananas
- Currants (Zante)
Vegetables that are high in fiber
Your mother wasn't telling you to eat your veggies just because they are a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They also happen to be an excellent way to fulfill your daily need for fiber. Here's a list of fibrous vegetables. Be sure to include as many of them as possible in your diet on a daily basis.
- Lima beans
- Acorn squash
- Green peas
- Collard greens
- Butternut squash
- Beet greens
- Brussel sprouts
Other foods with lots of fiber
Fruits and vegetables are not the only foods that are a super source of fiber. Any of the following foods can give your daily fiber needs a real boost.
- Split peas, cooked
- Lentils, cooked
- Black beans, cooked
- Baked beans, cooked
- Chia seeds
- Barley, cooked
- Quinoa cooked
- Oatmeal, instant
- Brown rice
High fiber food list
Here's a list of 20 high fiber foods. Keep it on your refrigerator so you'll know which ones to pick up at the store or farmer's market. Amounts are per cup unless otherwise noted.
The bottom line
To help you get more fiber in your diet, consider these tips:
- add more beans and legumes to your diet: toss ½ cup of chickpeas into your salad (6 grams) or enjoy some lentil soup for lunch (12 grams)
- instead of mayonnaise or cheese, substitute hummus, guacamole or black bean spread on your whole grain bread or crackers
- replace white rice with brown rice, barley or quinoa
- you can never go wrong by snacking on a handful of almonds, walnuts, dates, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds…experiment and create your own yummy trail mix
- make sure your dinner plate is at least half filled with a rainbow-colored assortment of veggies every night
Remember that optimal nutrition won't come from a package or a bar. You'll never beat the nutrient value and delicious flavors of natural nutrition in high fiber foods.
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Palmer S. The top fiber-rich foods list. Today's Dietitian 2008 Jul; 10(7): 28
Whitbread D. 29 fruits high in fiber. My Food Data 2019 Apr 29
Whitbread D. 33 vegetables high in fiber. My Food Data 2019 Apr 29
Image: Abd allah Foteih