We hear so much about fiber. You probably already know it is good for your digestive system, but then again, so are a lot of things. If you are like me and are on a journey to live your best life, that means you want to treat your body well. Treating your body well begins with putting fuel into it that is nutritious and filling. That is where fiber comes in. High fiber foods are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Want to know more? Read on!
What is Fiber?
Simply put, fiber is the part of carbohydrates that the body cannot break down. Fiber is what keeps the digestive system operating smoothly. The undigested portions of the carbohydrates help in the body’s removal of waste, regulation of blood sugar, and leveling of cholesterol. There are two types of fiber of which to be aware. Insoluble fiber and soluble fiber are the two types to know, and each plays an equally important role in keeping the body regulated.
Insoluble fiber is the type of fiber that keeps your digestive system running smoothly. It is what prevents constipation from wreaking havoc on your gastrointestinal tract. Insoluble fiber is so named because it does not break down in or suspend in water. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and hastens wastes journey through and out of the body. It is crucial in maintaining regularity. Insoluble fiber is found in leafy green vegetables, whole grain, and wheat bran.
Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is the type of fiber that helps regulate blood sugar and balance cholesterol. Unlike insoluble fiber, soluble fiber is broken down in water. Soluble fiber slows down digestion and prevents overeating by helping you stay full-feeling. It is found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, legumes, and certain fruits as well.
Health Benefits of Fiber
Insoluble fiber and soluble fiber are equally important. While one hastens digestion, the other slows it down, so a balance keeps your digestive system working harmoniously.
Fiber aids in maintaining a healthy weight and also in the prevention of type II diabetes. Fiber also helps prevent heart disease by keeping cholesterol in check. Your skin will thank you for increasing your fiber intake because fiber works to expel toxins from the body through waste. Furthermore, fiber consumption has been linked to a decrease in cancer.
Top High Fiber Foods to Increase Your Fiber Intake
Increasing your fiber intake is very easy. Most foods contain a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber. Furthermore, high fiber foods tend to be versatile and tasty. Fruit, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and nuts are excellent sources of both forms of fiber that you can begin working into your diet today! Generally speaking, adults need between 25 and 30 grams of fiber per day. If you have not been getting the amount of fiber that your body needs, however, you do not want to add too much fiber into your diet overnight. Your body might react in a way that may upset your digestive system rather than help it. Instead, slowly add moderate amounts of fiber into your diet until you reach your daily recommended intake. Once you have begun to work 20 to 30 grams of fiber into your diet, maintenance is the name of the game!
Fruits are an excellent source of fiber. Canned fruit contains fiber, but as a rule, fresh fruit tends to provide a higher amount of fiber.
A serving of acorn squash has 2.1 grams of fiber. They are perfect in soups and bisques and are also delicious when baked.
An entire apple with the skin on has about 5 grams of fiber. Apples are perfect on their own as a fresh snack. They are also wonderful when baked or added to your favorite salad.
An avocado has about 13 grams of fiber in it. You can smear it on a piece of toast or blend it into a smoothie for a healthy way to start your day. Avocados are also great when mixed into fresh, homemade guacamole.
A medium banana packs in about 3 grams of fiber. Bananas are great fresh in the morning with some peanut butter. They are also excellent frozen for a fresh treat at the end of the day. This healthy treat is rich in vitamins and a great way to stay regular.
A cup of shredded coconut contains 7 grams of fiber. Coconut is great on its own or as a topping for your favorite dessert. Coconut can add wonderful flavor and texture to your favorite yogurt and is also delicious when added to smoothies.
A medium fig contains about 2 grams of fiber. Figs are wonderful in Mediterranean dishes and add a light sweetness to entrees. Figs are also an outstanding and filling snack on their own.
A cup of okra contains about 3 grams of fiber. Okra is great raw, baked, or even sautéed. It is a great addition to any lunch or dinner.
Pears are so sweet and juicy when ripe. They are great with ice cream and also perfect when paired with a lean protein. A single small pear contains just shy of 5 grams of fiber, as well, so they make great additions to any diet that needs a fiber boost.
Raspberries are such an excellent way to meet your daily recommended fiber intake for the day. A cup of raspberries yields about 8 grams of fiber. They are a great addition as a side to any savory meal and are also delectable in any dessert – they are a treat you can feel good about indulging in moderation.
Strawberries are the perfect summertime snack. A cup of sliced strawberries contains about 3.5 grams of fiber. These sweet fruits are great on their own, pureed into a dessert or blended into a morning smoothie for a satisfying snack.
Leafy green vegetables contain a healthy amount of fiber. They are great as additions to breakfast, lunches, and make wonderful snacks and sides. If you are not getting a regular amount of fiber in your diet, green vegetables are a great way to introduce higher amounts into each meal gradually.
Artichokes introduce an almost tangy taste to any entree. They also bring about 7 grams of fiber to the table on average. Add them to your dinner to increase your fiber game and liven up any dish!
Broccoli is known for making people a little gassy, but what broccoli is really doing is helping introduce regularity to your digestive tract. A cup of chopped broccoli contains just shy of 3 grams of fiber. Broccoli is great in a hearty soup with cheese and is also wonderful as a side to any lunch or dinner meal.
Brussels sprouts, weighing just under 3.5 grams a serving, might be a kid’s worse nightmare, but it is an excellent way for adults to reach their daily recommended intake for fiber. Great fried, baked or sautéed, Brussels sprouts are a versatile veggie that can help you get where you need to be, fiber-wise.
Beets are known for being nature’s candy. These sweet, red vegetables are bursting with flavor and also with fiber! A cup of beets contains 4 grams of fiber and is perfect when roasted!
Carrots aren’t just good for the eyes! Carrots help adults reach their recommended daily intake of fiber by offering up to 4 grams of fiber per serving. Carrots are wonderful raw, great in soups and bisques and delicious when dipped in the classic ranch dressing.
This Thanksgiving staple is a fiber powerhouse. A cup of sweet potatoes has 4 grams of fiber. Sweet potatoes are delicious if baked, topped with marshmallows or pureed in a warm winter soup. Such a flavorful vegetable makes reaching your fiber goal easy.
For a healthy and fiber-full alternative to your lassi mashed potato dish, try substituting out potatoes with turnips. A serving of turnips contains just shy of 3 grams of fiber and will leave you full for hours.
There is a reason you often hear that beans are good for your heart health. Legumes are a great source of soluble fiber, which helps your blood pressure remain stable and healthy. Legumes are also filling and a strong source of protein as well. You can work legumes into your lunches, dinners, and even snacks!
Black beans are such an adaptable, and delicious ingredient. They are also great in soups, tacos and as a side dish. They pack in an entire day’s worth of fiber. A cup of black beans contains a whopping 30 grams of fiber, so don’t go too overboard!
Chickpeas are a strong source of fiber. A one-cup serving of chickpeas contains just shy of 25 grams of fiber and 41 grams of protein. They are a great base for any entree.
Kidney beans are another immense source of fiber. They meet your daily needs in one foul swoop. In fact, one serving of kidney beans brings home a total of 28 grams of fiber.
Lentils make a tasty addition to any soup or salad. They also yield an impressive amount of fiber per serving. Lentils contain around 21 grams of fiber per serving, so if you have them for lunch or dinner, you don’t need to worry about adding in too much more fiber to your diet for the rest of the day.
Lima beans are a delicious side for dinner or a main dish for lunch. They have about 10 grams of protein per serving, and they offer up just shy of 8 grams of fiber as well.
With 8.5 grams of fiber per serving on average, peas are a colorful and tasty addition to any balanced diet. They are a great side and also make a yummy snack.
Seeds and Grains
Seeds and grains make excellent breakfasts and snacks. These fiber-rich foods are sure to keep you from overeating; they also tend to be rich in soluble fiber, so your heart will thank you!
Chia seeds are a fantastic source of soluble fiber. They are delicious when added into overnight oats and create appetizing texture. They also offer up just under 10 grams of fiber per one-ounce serving!
Just a tiny tablespoon of flaxseeds yields 3 grams of fiber. Add them to a salad or to your favorite trail mix for a well-balanced meal.
Oats are one of those staples that everyone has in their pantry. They are great for breakfast, delicious when added to a dessert and are an excellent healthy way to create a breaded dish. Moreover, oats contain 14.5 grams of fiber in a serving size of one cup.
Quinoa is a great alternative to rice as far as side dishes go. It makes a great bed on which to sit your meal prepped proteins. Quinoa also yields about 5 grams of fiber per serving, so feel free to add this tasty and filling food to your next lunch or dinner.
Perfect as snacks and in salads, nuts tend to contain a surprising amount of fiber. They are high in healthy fat and are immensely flavorful. Because of their fiber content, a small number of nuts can have a hefty impact on your hunger and leave you feeling satisfied.
Add almonds to your favorite trail mix for a fiber-heavy snack. You can also use almonds as a crisp breading alternative. Almonds are also delectable when pureed. They contain 18 grams of fiber in a cup-sized serving!
Finally, we have walnuts. Walnuts are great in trail mix and also add a tasty crunch to salads. They make a delicious addition to desserts and are also yummy when mixed into certain dinner dishes (really, any dinner dish!). What is more, they contain 2 grams of fiber per serving, so they are a good way to meet those last few grams needed to meet your daily recommended intake.
Fiber is what keeps our digestive system regular. Without it, you will find very quickly that you don’t feel right – physically and emotionally since so many of our nerves are located right in our gut. To establish and maintain a healthy digestive tract, slowly begin to incorporate fiber into your diet. Remember that adding too much fiber too quickly is it’s own is a recipe for disaster. Slow and steady will win this race. Try to gradually add in a few grams of fiber more than you normally eat until you reach your daily recommended intake, and before you know it, your digestive system will feel better. And in turn, you will feel better too!