A diet based on high fiber foods can be very helpful in significantly reducing the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and diverticular disease. It also works as an effective digestion aid by increasing the size and softness of your stool.
Here’s a complete guide for everything you need to know about dietary fiber as well as some high fiber foods to incorporate into your diet starting today.
What Is Fiber?
Before getting to high fiber foods, let’s start with some basics. What is fiber?
It is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. The majority of carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules by your digestive system, but fiber passes through undigested.
The benefits of fiber are manifold, from regulating the body’s sugars to keeping hunger in check. There are two varieties of fiber you need to know about, both of which are beneficial for your health: soluble and insoluble fibers.
· Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is commonly found in oat bran, fruits, barley, seeds, nuts, as well as some vegetables. As the name suggests, this type of fiber dissolves in water. It especially helps regulate glucose and cholesterol levels.
· Insoluble Fiber
Foods with insoluble fiber help move food through your digestive system more smoothly and prevent constipation. They commonly include bread made of whole wheat, couscous, brown rice, tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers.
7 Health Benefits of Fiber
There are several health benefits of fiber. This list contains the most important ones that you should know about.
#1. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
According to a 2004 Harvard study that reviewed the long-term health benefits of over 40,000 male health professionals, a 40% decrease was observed in the risk of developing coronary heart disease in subjects with a higher fiber intake.
Fibrous foods have been linked to eliminating a number of factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease. These factors include high blood pressure, obesity, and high levels of triglycerides and insulin. This is because fibers can soak up excess cholesterol from your food and send it to the bowels before it gets absorbed into the bloodstream.
#2. Helps Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Diets that are either high in sugar or cause a surge in blood sugar need to be offset by a high fiber intake. Otherwise, you run the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and this risk is the same for both men and women. The impact fiber has on your overall weight and blood sugar/cholesterol levels is instrumental towards reducing the chances of type 2 diabetes.
#3. Helps Prevent Diverticular Disease
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Diverticular disease, also known as diverticulosis, is a condition that involves bulging pockets and sacs forming in the digestive tract. This usually happens with the large intestine. A fiber-rich diet can help keep diverticular disease at bay, especially insoluble fiber.
#4. Aids Digestion and Constipation
Constipation is a common digestive complaint from people who don’t eat foods with fiber. Fiber solves this problem by adding bulk to your stool and making it softer, which speeds up the process in your body.
Fiber is also food for the good bacteria in your gut. They consume fiber and break it down to short-chain fatty acids that have many benefits, including reducing inflammation.
A lot of the problems you face with digestion can be solved by simply consuming more fiber-rich foods.
#5. Lowered Risk of Breast Cancer
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a high-fiber diet reduces the chances of breast cancer in adults. The research showed that consuming fiber-rich foods during adolescence and early adulthood is particularly important.
#6. May Help Prevent Colon Cancer
Studies haven’t been able to link fiber with colon cancer but, a lot of doctors suspect poor fiber intake as a possible culprit. Given its usefulness and necessity when it comes to digestion, it’s not hard to see why.
#7. Prevents Obesity
Eating foods that are rich in fiber will leave you feeling more satiated, thus helping you control your hunger. It will also help prevent sugar and cholesterol from building up too much in the body by detoxing your nutrient absorption of its impurities. As a result, you have much lower chances of putting on excess weight.
How Much Fiber Do You Need Everyday?
According to the University of California San Francisco, both children and adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day to ensure good health. Of this, roughly 1/4th should be made up of soluble fiber. You need to calculate whether your diet provides you with enough fiber for your daily needs.
Here are some common high-fiber foods with their fiber content per 100g, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Note that these are just the foods with the highest fiber per 100g. There are many other foods you can also look into as a good source of fiber.
#1. Cooked Split Peas: 117 kcal | 8.3 grams of fiber
#2. Cooked Navy Beans: 140 kcal | 10.5 grams of fiber
#3. Cooked Lentils: 115 kcal | 7.9 grams of fiber
#4. Cooked Lima Beans: 114 kcal | 7 grams of fiber
#5. Cooked Green Peas: 77 kcal | 5.5 grams of fiber
#6. Cooked Red Kidney Beans: 126 kcal | 7.4 grams of fiber
#1. Cooked Brown Rice: 360 kcal | 4 grams of fiber
#2. Cooked Whole Grain Barley: 123 kcal | 3.8 grams of fiber
#3. Whole Wheat: 375 kcal | 8.9 grams of fiber
#4. Rolled Oats Oatmeal: 350 kcal | 10 grams of fiber
#5. Oat Bran: 246 kcal | 15.4 grams of fiber
#1. Avocado: 160 kcal | 6.7 grams of fiber
#2. Mango: 71 kcal | 2.1 grams of fiber
#3. Raspberries: 57 kcal | 6.4 grams of fiber
#4. Blackberries: 71 kcal | 5 grams of fiber
#5. Pears: 288 kcal | 15 grams of fiber
#6. Passion Fruit: 97 kcal | 10.4 grams of fiber
#1. Broccoli: 34 kcal | 2.6 grams of fiber
#2. Collard greens: 32 kcal | 4 grams of fiber
#3. Artichokes: 50 kcal | 5 grams of fiber
#4. Brussel Sprouts: 43 kcal | 3.8 grams of fiber
Nuts & Seeds
#1. Chia Seeds: 534 kcal | 27.3 grams of fiber
#2. Flax Seeds: 534 kcal | 27.3 grams of fiber
#3. Pumpkin Seeds: 574 kcal | 6.5 grams of fiber
#4. Almonds: 579 kcal | 12.5 grams of fiber
#5. Pecans: 691 kcal | 9.6 grams of fiber
#6. Sunflower Seeds: 582 kcal | 11.1 grams of fiber
#7. Peanuts: 567 kcal | 8.5 grams of fiber
#8. Buckwheat: 343 kcal | 10 grams of fiber
Spices And Seasonings
#1. Curry Powder: 325 kcal | 53.2 grams of fiber
#2. Grounded Cinnamon: 247 kcal | 53.1 grams of fiber
#3. Dried Rosemary: 131 kcal | 42.6 grams of fiber
#4. Dried Oregano: 265 kcal | 42.5 grams of fiber
#5. Dried Coriander Seed: 23 kcal | 41.9 grams of fiber
#6. Dried Marjoram: 272 kcal | 40.3 grams of fiber
#7. Dried Basil: 22 kcal | 37.7 grams of fiber
14 Tips For Adding Fiber To Your Diet
Here are 14 tips to give you a general idea of what sort of things to eat to get more fiber into your body.
#1. Stick to whole-grain carb sources and complex carbohydrates.
#2. Include more vegetables in your meals.
#3. If you’re looking for a healthy fiber-rich snack, try popcorn.
#4. Avoid consuming refined grains.
#5. There are various fiber supplements available in the market today. Research and look into the one that would be best for you.
#6. Eat more fruits but choose ones that are low in fruit sugars.
#7. Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses that pack a high dose of fibers, along with many other useful nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids.
#8. Avocados are rich in fiber but also high in calories.
#9. Find a way to incorporate more nuts and seeds into your recipes.
#10. Make sure you are consuming legumes on a regular basis.
#11. Don’t take the skin off apples or cucumbers, they are excellent sources of fiber.
#12. Check the labels on the back of food products to pick foods that have lots of fiber.
#13. Every meal should contain at least 2-3 fiber-rich ingredients.
#14. Add fiber-rich seasonings to your meals.
A Few Parting Words
None of your long-term health goals are achievable without high fiber foods in your diet. Fibers are instrumental in preventing many health conditions and can even provide you with benefits in the short run such as improved digestion.