High Fiber Foods
Fiber is an important part of a healthy balanced diet. It can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers, and can also improve digestive health. The average intake of fiber is at least 30g a day. For children it is recommended the average amount of dietary fiber per day should be:
- Women: 25 grams
- Men: 35-40 grams
- 2-5-year-olds: about 15g
- 5-11-year-olds: about 20g
- 11-16-year-olds: about 25g
- 16-18-year-olds: about 30g
What is dietary fiber?
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates — which your body breaks down and absorbs — fiber isn’t digested by your body. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body.
Fiber is commonly classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve.
Soluble fiber. This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium.
Insoluble fiber. This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool bulk, so it can be of benefit to those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.
Most plant-based foods, such as oatmeal and beans, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. However, the amount of each type varies in different plant foods. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods.
Benefits of dietary fiber
Dietary Fiber Keeps Cholesterol Down
Fiber helps your cholesterol levels by blocking harmful cholesterol from making it into the bloodstream. Specifically it’s the soluble fiber that does the most work in this department. Soluble means it’s soaked up by the body rather than insoluble, which remains undigested during its trip through the body.
Dietary Fiber Helps Control Blood sugar
In people with diabetes, fiber — particularly soluble fiber — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A recent analysis of 19 studies, for example, found that people who ate the most fiber—more than 26 grams a day—lowered their odds of the disease by 18 percent, compared to those who consumed the least (less than 19 grams daily). The researchers believe that it’s fiber’s one-two punch of keeping blood sugar levels steady and keeping you at a healthy weight that may help stave off the development of diabetes.
Dietary Fiber Helps in Improving Heart Health
An inverse association has been found between fiber intake and heart attack, and research shows that those eating a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease. For every 7 grams of fiber eaten daily, your risk of heart disease drops by 9 percent found a review of 22 studies published in the BMJ. That’s partly due to fiber’s ability to sop up excess cholesterol in your system and ferry it out before it can clog your arteries.
Dietary Fiber Reduces the Risk of Stroke
Researchers have found that for every seven-grams more fiber you consume on a daily basis, your stroke risk is decreased by 7 percent. Fiber helps you avoid a stroke by lowering the blood pressure. Cholesterol-lowering fiber sources like oatmeal are the best for reducing the likelihood of a stroke.
Dietary Fiber Helps Weight loss
Fiber supplements have been shown to enhance weight loss among obese people likely because fiber increases feelings of fullness. Eating the right amount of fiber each day contributes to your quest of maintaining a healthy weight. Not getting enough fiber causes you to store excess body waste and leaves you susceptible to toxic build-up, while making you less likely to have that get-up-and-go that leads to exercise and other activities.
Dietary Fiber Helps Reduce Risk of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids can be a painful and intense condition, and can be caused by or worsened by hardened stools caused by a lack of fiber. Straining to go and spending longer on the toilet than would otherwise be necessary are two contributing factors when it comes to hemorrhoids. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of hemorrhoids.
Dietary Fiber Helps Improves Skin Health
Fiber, particularly psyllium husk, may help move yeast and fungus out of your body, preventing them from being excreted through your skin where they could trigger acne or rashes.
Dietary Fiber Reduce Risk of Certain Cancers
Fiber may not have been shown to directly responsible for cancer prevention, but it adds to a properly functioning body that is at a healthy weight and is keeping toxins from lingering around.
Every 10 grams of fiber you eat is associated with a 10 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and a 5 percent fall in breast cancer risk, says a study published in the Annals of Oncology. In addition to the anti-cancer effects of fiber, the foods that contain it—like veggies and fruits—are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that could further reduce your odds.
Dietary Fiber Helps Keep Your Bowels and Colon Healthy
A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Some fiber is fermented in the colon. Researchers are looking at how this may play a role in preventing diseases of the colon.
Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool.
Reduce Risk of Diverticulitis
Dietary fiber (especially insoluble) may reduce your risk of diverticulitis – an inflammation of polyps in your intestine – by 40 percent.
Gallstones and kidney stones
A high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of gallstones and kidney stones, likely because of its ability to help regulate blood sugar.
Sources of Dietary Fiber
As per Dr Axe, the following food items are an excellent source of dietary fiber:
Raspberries – Dietary Fiber Content: 8 grams of fiber per cup
Berries as not normally known for their high fiber content but 1 cup of raspberries contains as much fiber as 3 slices of most whole grain breads. Their sweet flavor makes them perfect for quenching sweet cravings without blowing your diet. Raspberries also contain over half your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
Avocado – Dietary Fiber Content: 10.5 grams per cup (sliced)
Known for their high levels of heart healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados are also a great source of fiber. One avocado contains 9 grams of fiber, making it a perfect choice for guys on a carbohydrate restricted diet that are looking for more fiber.
Coconut – Dietary Fiber: 7.2 grams per cup
Coconut has low glycemic index, and is easy to incorporate into your diet; with 4 to 6 times the amount of fiber as oat bran, coconut flour and grated coconut is a great way to add a healthy natural fiber to your diet. In countries where coconut is a dietary staple, there are fewer incidents of high cholesterol and heart disease.
Asian Pears – Dietary Fiber: 9.9 grams of fiber per medium fruit
Crisp, sweet, and delicious, Asian Pears contain high levels of fiber, but also is rich in Omega-6 fatty acids (149 mg per serving) associated with healthy cells, brain and nerve function. The American Heart Association recommends at least 5%-10% of food calories come from Omega 6 fatty acid foods.
Figs – Dietary Fiber: 14.6 grams of fiber in 1 cup dried figs
Dried figs and fresh figs are a great source of fiber. Unlike many other foods, figs have a near perfect balance of soluble and insoluble fiber. Figs are associated with lower blood pressure and protection against macular degeneration, in addition to the benefits of the fiber.
Peas – Dietary Fiber: 8.6 grams per cooked cup
The humble green pea is packed with fiber, and powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and phytonutrients that support wellness. Frozen peas are available year round, making them ideal to incorporate into your diet.
Okra – Dietary Fiber: 8.2 grams per cup
Just one cup provides for nearly a third of recommended daily fiber, and is one of the top calcium rich foods. It is packed with nutrients and is easily incorporated into soups and stews.
Acorn Squash – Dietary Fiber: 9 grams of fiber per cup (baked)
Winter squash including pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and acorn squashes 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.
Brussels Sprouts – Dietary Fiber: 7.6 grams of fiber per cup
As one of the power-packed cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are one of the better high fiber foods. Rich with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, Brussels sprouts support healthy detox, and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
Turnips – Dietary Fiber: 4.8 grams of fiber per ½ cup
Turnips are a good source of dietary fiber.
Black Beans – Dietary Fiber: 12.2 grams of fiber per cup
Black beans are nutrient dense, and provide great protein and fiber to your diet. The high content of flavonoids and antioxidants help to fight free radicals, reducing your risk of some cancers and inflammatory diseases.
Chickpeas – Dietary Fiber: 8 grams of fiber per cup
Chickpeas are rich in essential nutrients, including Manganese. In fact, these small beans provide for 84% of your daily-recommended amount of Manganese.
Lima Beans – Dietary Fiber: 13.2 grams of fiber per cup
In addition to the outstanding fiber per serving, lima beans offers nearly 25% of the daily recommended iron for women. The manganese helps with energy production, and the antioxidants help to fight free radicals.
Lentils – Dietary Fiber: 10.4 grams of fiber per cup
Almonds Dietary Fiber: 0.6 grams of fiber per 6 almonds
Walnut Dietary Fiber: 1.9 grams of fiber per 1 ounce by weight
While relatively small in comparison to some of the foods mentioned above, nuts are a healthy way to quickly increase your fiber intake. Almonds are lower in calories and fats than walnuts, while higher in potassium and protein.
Flax Seeds – Dietary Fiber: 3 grams of fiber per tablespoon of whole flax seeds
Tons of nutrients, packed in a little seed, flax seeds reduce cholesterol and help to ease the symptoms of menopause.
Chia Seeds – Dietary Fiber: 5.5 grams per tablespoon
Chia seeds are a true superfood that is easily incorporated into your diet. High in fiber, and essential nutrients, they help to increase energy, support digestive health, and have many more health benefits. Like beans and legumes, some people may experience gas and bloating; increase water intake to help minimize these symptoms.