Most fitness buffs focus on protein in their daily diet and overlook the importance of fiber. And that’s a big mistake!
Benefits Of Fiber In Diet
Whereas the role of high fiber foods for weight loss is a known fact, but not many people know that high fiber diet helps to improve digestive health, lowers cholesterol numbers, reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Fiber along with sufficient fluid intake causes an efficient bowel movement, so help in keeping constipation at bay. A study has found that individuals with a higher fiber intake have a longer lifespan than those with a lower intake.
Why Fiber Rich Foods?
Fiber is something the body requires but never absorbs or retains it. Actually it remains more or less same from plate to toilet. It is of two types, soluble and insoluble. Most of the plant based foods contain a combination of the two. Soluble fiber converts into a gel in the stomach and slows digestion that helps to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar. On the other hand, insoluble fiber stays as it is all the way to the colon; rendering waste bulkier and softer thus it moves more easily through the intestines.
Missing the daily requirement of fiber causes constipation, which makes going to toilet uncomfortable and laborious. Also eating less than the daily needs makes it hard to control blood glucose and appetite as the fiber manages the pace of digestion and helps in bestowing a feeling of being full. As is universally true too much of even a good thing can be bad, so overdoing it with fiber can cause moving food through the intestine too fast, which results in absorbing of much fewer nutrients from the food. It can also lead to bloating, cramping and gassy conditions, particularly when fiber intake is considerably increased over night.
Unfortunately, few people are eating enough fiber. In reality, you may also be not getting enough fiber. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of Americans aren’t meeting their daily recommended fiber intake.
Recommended Fiber Intake
So, what are the magic numbers? It’s 38 grams of fiber per day for the men under 50 and 25 grams for women. Adults over 50 need less fiber (30 grams for guys and 21 grams for ladies) because of reduced food consumption. But in reality an average person consumes less than 15 grams a day. Solution is eating foods rich in fiber – not foods that tout “added fiber” – to increase your fiber intake. Continue reading here for our recommended list of high fiber foods.
What Foods Are High In Fiber?
Do you know that whole grains are hardly the best sources of fiber around? Read on here to know some of the best foods high in fiber.
Increase your fiber intake gradually. If you are eating low fiber foods for now, don’t hastily switch to eating 38 grams a day as this will cause too much strain to your digestive system suddenly.
Legumes – Best Fiber Foods
1. Split Peas:
Fiber: 13 grams per cup, dry
Split peas are rightly the first item in our high fiber foods list as they are not only jam-packed with fiber, but are brimming with muscle-friendly protein. You will also reap the benefits of folate, B vitamin. They are easier and faster to cook than dry beans without the need for presoak.
Fiber – 15.6 grams per cup, cooked
Lentils (members of the legume family) stand in the front row of highest fiber foods. They are also good source of plant-based protein, B vitamins, iron, and many other minerals. They are not only inexpensive, but also take less time to cook in a pot of simmering water, which is much faster than dried beans. Green and brown lentils are higher in fiber than red (pink) ones.
3. Black Beans:
Fiber: 15 grams per cup, cooked
Black beans not only contain 15 grams of fiber per cup, but also 15 grams of protein. Their dark, rich color portends rich flavonoids content – plant pigments, which are potent antioxidants. They are good for your heart health too.
4. Kidney Beans:
Fiber: 14 grams per cup, cooked
Although many body builders prefer meat than beans, this high fiber food (including other beans) is star of your kitchen. They are good sources of fiber, protein, and iron. They are inexpensive and convenient to cook as well. It’s a boon for weight watchers because if you eat beans regularly you will be 23% less likely to have a large waistline as compared to the people who shun beans.
5. Chickpeas / Garbanzo Beans:
Fiber: 11 grams per cup
Chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans. This fiber rich food also contains high amounts of plant protein, iron and vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 helps to maintain a healthy nervous system.
Fiber: 8 grams per 1/2 cup
Edamame are green soybeans picked before fully matured. You can find them in the freezer section of most grocery stores. A mere half-cup serving of edamame provides up to 11 grams of protein (good for building your muscle) along with 8 grams of fiber.
7. Lima Beans:
Fiber: 13.2 grams per cup, cooked
They are nutritious, buttery good source of iron, blood-pressure-lowering potassium, and magnesium. They come fresh in the market during summer times. At other times, you can get bags of frozen lima beans that are an easy way to fulfill your daily fiber needs.
8. White Beans:
Fiber: 10 grams per cup, boiled
They are (also called as navy beans) small, oval-shaped beans with white skin. They have a delicate flavor. These white beans were named Navy Beans because of their inclusion in the U.S. Naval diet during the second half of the 19th Century. They are not only rich in fiber, but also contain high amounts of protein, iron and are one of the best nutritional sources of potassium—1 cup will cover 25% of your daily requirement for this hypertension-fighting nutrient.
High Fiber Vegetables
Fiber: 8.8 grams per cup, cooked
This humble vegetable is an inexpensive fiber source. Peas fated for the freezer are frozen soon after harvest, thereby their nutritional potency is preserved, including valuable amounts of vitamin K and vitamin A. On top of all that you even get 4 grams of protein per serving.
Fitness Tip: Do you know one cup of split peas boasts 16.3 grams of fiber, and a cup of frozen peas contains 8.8 grams of fiber after cooking?
Fiber: 5.1 grams per cup, cooked
It not only provides you with 5.1 grams of fiber per cup of boiled broccoli, but also has cancer-preventing properties.
11. Acorn Squash:
Fiber: 9 grams per cup, cooked
This winter vegetable is chockfull of fiber. Its sweet flesh contains high amounts of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gets transformed to vitamin A to boost your immunity health.
Fiber: 7 grams per cup
This veggie has an amazing nutty, little sweet flavor with aromatic herbal touch. These tubers are gifted with 60% more dietary fiber than carrots. As a perk, you get a healthy dose of potassium to induce healthy muscle functioning.
13. Sweet Potato:
Fiber: 4 grams per 1 small sweet potato
Make sure to eat sweet potato with skin as about half of the fiber is contained in the outer layer. We support this fiber source, since it provides you with good amount of fat-fighting fiber – thus good for the physique minded.
14. Brussels Sprouts:
Fiber: 3.5 grams per cup
Few foods are as nutrient-dense as the wrongly maligned brussels sprouts. Not only do they harbor fiber, but the sprouts are loaded with vitamin K and vitamin C. There’s even some research to suggest that vitamin C supplementation may reduce heart rate and perception of exertion during exercise, both of which can make your taxing workouts seem less difficult.
Fruits High In Fiber
15. Dried Figs:
Fiber: 15 grams per cup
Whereas fresh figs may be difficult to find at your local food store, but dried figs – high fiber sources – are available year round. Think of all those tiny seeds as packed with fiber. A perk you get is a range of nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K, which are not found in many other parched fruits.
Fiber: 8 grams per cup, raw
When it comes to berries, these colored trinkets are the high fiber fruits. One cup of this flushed gems provides twice the amount of fiber contained in blueberries. One cup of raspberries not only provides you with 1/3rd of your daily fiber needs, but they are also packed with powerful antioxidants, including healthy dose of vitamin C. Eat them up – whether ruby-red or blue-black they are nutrition superstars.
Fiber: 7.6 grams per cup, raw
As with their red cousin, lusciously blackberries are rich fiber fruit. The colorful glees are loaded with vitamin K as well. It has been reported that higher intakes of vitamin K are co-related with a reduced risk of big-time killers such as heart disease and cancer.
Fiber: 13 grams per fruit, raw
This creamy fruit is one of the best high fiber snacks. Just 2 tablespoons of avocado’s creamy flesh provide you with 2 grams of fiber, and the whole fruit about 13 grams. Avocados are also a rich source of mono- and polyunsaturated fats—the “healthy fats”, which can help lower cholesterol and cut down heart-disease risk. You also get the benefits of its nutrient jackpot including significant amounts of vitamin K, folate, potassium, and vitamin B-6.
Fiber: 5.5 grams per medium fruit, raw
As with most fruits with edible skins, pear is most nutritious and fiber-packed when its skin is left intact. Keeping the skin on is really important for fiber. Do you know pears contain about 30 percent more fiber than apples? Just ensure that you eat them with their skin intact as that’s where most of the dietary fiber (as well as several important antioxidants) is found.
20. Frozen Cherries:
Fiber: 5 grams per cup
They are easily available during summer months, but once they bid goodbye it’s hard to find them fresh. But wait don’t get disappointed, you can get lusciously sweet frozen cherries that are already usefully pitted and chockfull of fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.
21. Baby Oranges – High Fiber Snacks
Fiber: 5 grams per 5 fruits
Also called as Kumquats, an exotic name. It comes in the size of a large grape that you can pop whole into your mouth – no need for peeling. They are like an orange that has been turned inside out – whereas the eatable rind is incredibly sweet, the flesh is a little sour. Since you can eat them with their skin, kumquats are high fibrous food.
Fiber: 4.4 grams per regular size apple, raw
Just like other skin fruits, the most fiber is found in the apple’s skin. Make sure to eat apple with skin intact, otherwise you will miss out on fiber and a horde of healthy phytochemicals. Once you take the skin off, you take off a host of the good stuff that’s in there.
Grains – Foods With Fiber
23. Dark Rye Flour:
Fiber: 7 grams per 1/4 cup
If you want to have a food high in fiber, use dark rye flour instead of wheat flour. It’s made by grinding up whole rye kernels into flour. Healthy rye flour is not so popular in US, but is usually used in Scandinavian kitchens for making foods like breads and crackers.
Besides fiber, it boasts of many crucial nutrients, including phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, and iron. Keep in mind that “light rye flour” is just like white flour as a portion of its nutritional goodness is stripped off.
24. Wheat Bran:
Fiber: 6 grams per 1/4 cup
Grains comprise of three elements – endosperm, germ and bran. The later part has most of the fiber. When the bran is separated from the whole wheat, what you get is bran flakes. It’s also full of manganese, a mineral that contribute a major role in metabolism.
Fitness Tip: Want to get plenty of fiber and protein all-together. Whip up a nutritious smoothie and have your breakfast on the go!
25. Steel-Cut Oats:
Fiber: 5 grams per ¼ cup, Dry
It’s a super fiber source food. Steel-cut version is more filling, which can help reduce mid-morning hunger pangs. It’s made when the whole-grain is passed through steel blades cutting them into pellet-like pieces. Oats have beta-glucan, a unique kind of fiber that works to lower cholesterol levels and boost up your immune-system function. They also have a superior mix of soluble fiber food (the type that reduces blood cholesterol) and insoluble fiber (which keeps your digestive system running smoothly).
Fiber: 4 grams per 4 cups
A high fiber source with low calories, about 4 grams per 4 cups serving. Go for the plain, air popped version or look for bagged versions with as short of an ingredient list as possible, but not the calorie-bomb multiplex variety. This humble snack is often overlooked while talking about high fiber snacks. This fiber loaded snack with just 130 calories per 4-cup serving makes it tough for you to find more snacks that are less menacing to your waistline.
27. Whole-Wheat Pasta:
Fiber: 6.3 grams per cup, cooked.
Swap out traditional pasta for the whole-wheat version. It’s great way to bring in more fiber into your diet. If you are used to white pasta, gradually you can acquire whole-wheat pasta taste.
Nuts And Seeds – High Fiber Sources
28. Chia Seeds:
Fiber: 11 grams per ounce
This genuine super food is not only chockfull of fiber, but also is a great source of the vital omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid that are reported to have heart-healthy benefits. You can go for either of the white or dark chia seeds as both are generally equally nutritious.
29. Ground Flaxseed:
Fiber: 4 grams per 2 tablespoons
This seed is an excellent source of soluble fiber. In your stomach soluble fiber absorbs water and transforms into a gel, which slows down digestion. With the result it keeps you feeling full for longer. Perk is that it moderates your blood sugar levels as well.
Just like chia seeds, flax seeds provide omega fats and are also a source of beneficial lignans, plant compounds, which are reported to have cholesterol-lowering powers. To properly absorb the nutrients the flax seeds must be ground into a powder.
Fitness Tip: You can make your own powerful nut butter spread by grinding mix of 1 cup unsalted almonds, 1 cup pecan halves, 1/4 cup ground flaxseed, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil in a food processor or blender until creamy.
Fiber: 3 grams per ounce
Almonds—and pretty much every other edible nut and seed that you can name—are good sources of fiber and filled with healthy fats and protein. Almonds also provide healthy monounsaturated fat, magnesium, and vitamin E. Research has also reported that increasing vitamin E intake can increase antioxidant activity, which can help offset some of the oxidative stress associated with intense training.
31. Sun Flower Seeds:
Fiber: 3 grams per ounce
The kernels of the sun-worshiping flower generally remain unnoticed under the shadow of nuts such as almonds and walnuts, but they’re a great way to introduce more fiber to your diet. The shelled kernels also offer vitamin E and selenium to help further lace your diet with beneficial nutrients. A study has found that the higher your selenium levels, the lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Whole wheat, brown rice, pearled barley and dried coconut are some other foods that are high in fiber.
(i) As you add foods with high fiber to your diet, be sure to drink more water, too.
(ii) Key is to increase your fiber intake gradually. If you normally eat (low-fiber) foods for now, don’t abruptly start eating 40 grams of fiber a day as that can cause a lot of stress to the digestive system.