A Guide to High-Fiber Foods

Why high-fiber foods should be in your diet

You've probably read that eating high-fiber foods is a healthy choice, but do you know which kinds of foods are really the best sources of fiber? Take a moment to learn more about high-fiber foods, how they benefit your body and how best to introduce them to your diet.

Why eat high-fiber foods?

Fiber is important for proper digestion. According to the National Fiber Council, fiber acts to create a feeling of fullness when you eat, traps fat and cholesterol, slows down sugar absorption, promotes healthy bacteria growth and adds weight to the stool by absorbing water. As a result, eating a high-fiber diet can help you manage your weight, lower your cholesterol, regulate your blood sugar levels, boost your immune system and reduce constipation. Fiber can also reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

How much fiber do you need?

According to the Mayo Clinic website, women should aim for 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day. Men should try to ingest between 30 and 38 grams.

Examples of high-fiber grains and legumes

Grains and legumes with high fiber content include:

  • Brown rice (3.5 grams per 1 cup cooked)
  • Whole-wheat bread (1.9 grams per slice)
  • Popcorn (3.5 grams per 3 cups)
  • Whole-wheat spaghetti (6.2 grams per 1 cup)
  • Lentils (15.6 grams per 1 cup cooked)
  • Black beans (15 grams per 1 cup cooked)
  • Almonds (3.5 grams per 1 oz., or about 23 nuts)
  • Pistachios (2.9 grams per 1 oz., or about 49 nuts)

Examples of high-fiber fruits and veggies

Fruits and veggies with high fiber content include:

  • Apple, medium size, with skin (4.4 grams)
  • Raspberries (8 grams per 1 cup)
  • Banana, medium size (3.1 grams)
  • Orange, medium size (3.1 grams)
  • Strawberries, halved (3.8 grams per 1 1/4 cup)
  • Artichoke, cooked, medium size (10.3 grams)
  • Peas (8.8 grams per 1 cup cooked)
  • Potato, medium size, baked with skin (2.9 grams)

Soluble and insoluble fiber

There are two types of fiber. Soluble fiber, which is most commonly found in fruits, beans, peas, oats and carrots, dissolves in water, forming a jelly-like substance. Soluble fiber can help reduce blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

Insoluble fiber, found in nuts, vegetables, whole-wheat flour and wheat bran, doesn't dissolve in water, and is good for moving food through your digestive tract. It aids regularity and guards against constipation. To get the most health benefits from fiber, the Mayo Clinic recommends eating a good mix of both types.

Photo: jules / stonesoup

 

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