If you’ve ever felt a little backed up, you’ve probably come across fiber in your search for a fix. It’s a pretty effective way to get things moving. And as it turns out, fiber can do more than help unclog those pipes. Diets high in fiber are linked with a healthy weight, lower risk for heart disease, and a healthy gut. So how can you add more fiber to your diet? Try piling your plate with one of these 10 high-fiber foods.
But first, what is fiber?
Put simply: fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. It differs from a nutrient that your body absorbs, but this doesn’t make it any less important. There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is broken down in the GI tract and helps keep you feeling fuller longer. Insoluble fiber passes through the GI tract without being broken down and gives you that oomph to keep things moving in your gut.
Most foods provide both types of fiber, but soluble fibers are primarily found in fruits and vegetables while insoluble fibers are primarily found in nuts and whole-grain grain products.
As important as fiber is to your health, most Americans aren’t hitting their daily goals. Only about 5% of men and women in the U.S. are getting the recommended amounts, which is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
Top 10 fiber-rich foods:
By now, you probably already know that avocados are loaded with healthy fats that promote skin, mood and heart health. But surprisingly, despite their creamy texture, they also provide an impressive amount of fiber. So if you’ve been holding out on the avocado toast trend, now is the perfect time to get hip – your palate and gut will thank you.
Fiber content: half an avocado has roughly 5 grams of fiber.
2. Sweet potatoes
Eat it savory or sweet – there’s no wrong time to add sweet potatoes to your meals! They’re a starchy root vegetable rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that promote the growth of good gut bacteria. What’s more, they’re also good for your eyes, mood and immune health. Sweet potatoes can easily be roasted with a bit of cinnamon for breakfast, eaten as fries or pureed to make a pie.
Fiber content: 1 cup of cooked sweet potatoes provides 6 grams of fiber.
With their vibrant color and sweet flavor, it’s easy to scarf down a whole handful of this tasty crowd pleaser. Tiny but mighty, berries are packed with essential nutrients like vitamin C, manganese, antioxidants and fiber. So whether you like them plain or added to yogurt, snag some berries at your next grocery haul and start munching!
Fiber content: 1 cup of raspberries provides about 8 grams of fiber.
You know the proverb: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. While adding apples to your diet won’t necessarily fix all your health issues, they do offer a slew of benefits. They’re rich in antioxidants, promote immune health and are a great source of fiber. With so many varieties and flavors, apples can be eaten as a snack with peanut butter, in a fruit salad or made into an apple pie.
Fiber content: ½ cup of an apple has 9 grams of fiber.
While salty snacks usually aren’t synonymous with health, popcorn is an exception. This popular snack is one of the best sources of fiber available. So, next time you’re at the movies or even at home watching Netflix – don’t skimp out those airy, crunchy bites! If butter isn’t your thing, try adding a little bit of olive oil with your favorite seasonings.
Fiber content: 1 cup of popcorn provides 17 grams of fiber.
With a long list of health benefits, lentils are touted as a superfood – and for good reasons. They’re a great source of protein, antioxidants, B-vitamins, zinc, iron, fiber and then some. Not only are they gut-friendly, lentils support your heart, blood pressure, inflammation, weight, blood sugar levels and more. Lentils can be prepared in soup, salsa, curry or added to salad.
Fiber content: ½ cup of cooked lentils is about 8 grams of fiber.
7. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Whether you call them chickpeas or garbanzo beans, these are one of the most versatile gut-friendly foods. Chickpeas are full of nutrients to promote brain, heart, inflammation and gut health. To consume all its benefits, chickpeas can be made into hummus, roasted with your favorite seasonings or added to a salad.
Fiber content: ½ cup of cooked chickpeas has about 6 grams of fiber.
8. Whole oats
What better way to rise and shine than with a breakfast of champions that promotes gut health? Oats help reduce cholesterol, helps keep your blood sugar levels steady and helps your stay regular. Not a morning person? No worries – oats can be prepared the night before. Just remember 2 parts liquid to 1-part oats.
Fiber content: 1 cup of cooked oats provides 4 grams of fiber.
Friendly to almost every meal plan, almonds are hailed as one of the healthiest nuts available. They’re rich in antioxidants, a source of protein, healthy fats, promote healthy cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and gut health. To net all its benefits, try adding it to stir-fry, salads or toasted with your favorite seasonings.
Fiber content: ½ cup of almonds has 6 grams of fiber.
10. Chia seeds
Whether you’re a health enthusiast or an avid TikTok scroller, you’re probably familiar with chia seeds. This nutrient-packed ingredient is quite buzzy, especially when it comes to gut health. Besides being an excellent source of fiber, chia seeds are rich in omega-3s, calcium, iron and antioxidants. You can add it to your salad, yogurt, make chia seed pudding or tea.
Fiber content: 2 tablespoons of chia seeds equals to 10 grams of fiber.
Tips to add more fiber in your diet:
- Look for whole-grain grain products such as crackers, English muffins, bagels and breads.
- Add veggies to pasta dishes and casseroles even if the recipe doesn’t call for it.
- Use chickpeas, lentils and beans as the star of your meal instead of meat (you’ll get plenty of protein from these foods too).
- Start the day with a fruit smoothie: use frozen mixed berries, banana, almond milk and ½ cup of raw whole grain oats for a breakfast that will keep you full.
- Always keep snacks like whole fruit and nuts nearby.
Fiber is incredibly important to health, offering a host of benefits. While most Americans aren’t getting enough, reaching the daily recommended amounts isn’t a hard task. By making small shifts to your diet and adding a variety of whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean meats and healthy fats you can easily meet your fiber goal.
To learn more about the importance of fiber, read Dietary fiber: why is it so essential?
Gabby is a nutritionist with a master’s degree in strategic communications. She loves using her nutrition-fluency with storytelling to encourage positive change. Before Persona, she worked at a mental health clinic helping clients manage stress, anxiety and other mental health issues through diet.
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