Are you getting enough fiber in your diet? We all know we need it, but even with an abundance of high-fiber foods out there, most people are not getting enough.
Dietary fiber is a crucial component of a healthy diet that comes in two different forms— soluble and insoluble. We will touch more on that below. In general, dietary fiber is classified by solubility in water, microbial fermentation in the large intestine, and viscosity.
WHAT IS FIBER? Fiber is naturally present in plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts. High-fiber foods can help support healthy digestion and are beneficial for the prevention of various diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and IBS [certain cases] to name a few. Fiber can also help contribute to proper immune response due to microbiota modulation. The gut microbiota plays important roles in metabolic and immunological tasks. Impairment of gut microbiota composition can alter homeostasis, which can lead to the development of microbiota-related diseases.
Inadequate fiber intake has been identified as a public health concern. According to consumer research, the public understands the benefits of fiber and thinks they are consuming enough of it already. Nonetheless, national consumption surveys have found that ~5% of the American population meets the proper recommendations.
SOLUBLE VS. INSOLUBLE FIBER: Soluble fiber includes polysaccharides, pectin, and gums, while insoluble fiber includes cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and creates a gel by binding fatty acids. Studies have demonstrated that soluble fiber helps prolong stomach emptying and allows for increased absorption of nutrients. In addition, soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol and help regulate blood glucose levels. High-soluble fiber whole foods include berries, some vegetables like peas and potatoes, beans, legumes, barley, and oats. Psyllium, a common fiber supplement, also contains a good source [~70%] of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber ferments in the stomach, which can lead to gas and bloating. It’s important to drink plenty of water and introduce soluble fiber foods gradually to avoid digestive upsets. In contrast, insoluble fiber provides bulk while also balancing pH levels in the intestines. It helps promote healthy and regular bowel movements and can prevent/alleviate constipation. Insoluble fiber does not ferment with colon bacteria or dissolve in water. It helps pass food more quickly through the stomach and intestines. Green vegetables, fruit with skin, nuts, and seeds are all examples of whole food sources high in insoluble fiber.
According to research demonstrating protection against coronary heart disease, adult women need 25g/day of fiber while adult men need 38g/day of fiber. That’s around 14g total fiber/1000kcal.
While dietary fiber may relieve symptoms for those with digestive issues, too much fiber is also possible. There are side effects associated with high-fiber intake for those who are trying to up their intake. If your diet is lacking in fiber, and you all of a sudden start consuming high amounts, it will cause discomfort. As I mentioned above, if you are upping your fiber intake, do it gradually and make sure to drink plenty of water! In addition, high-fiber foods can be irritating for those who struggle with certain forms of IBS.
Let’s get to my list of 10 whole foods high in fiber + simple ways to add them into your daily diet!
1. AVOCADOS: I talk about avocados quite a bit— they are a star whole food! Fiber occupies most of the carbohydrate content in avocados. Just 1/2 of a medium avocado provides 5g of fiber, which is quite high. I love adding avocado into my smoothies or topped on salads for a good boost of fiber. I like that avocados make my smoothies thicker and more creamy. Trying to up your fiber intake? Add some avo to your next smoothie blend, or top it on your next colourful salad!
2. BERRIES: Raspberries + blackberries especially contain a good source of dietary fiber. These two berries come packed with ~8g fiber/cup. Berries are such an easy + tasty whole food to add to your diet. Throw them into your smoothies, eat them fresh, or top them on your summer salads. Berries also rank as a top high-fiber food for kids as they are so versatile and delicious.
3. BRUSSELS SPROUTS: Maybe not everyone’s first choice, but this powerhouse cruciferous vegetable is rich in antioxidants + anti-inflammatory properties, and comes packed with 4g of fiber per cup. Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of whole food fiber and I quite enjoy them when they are seasoned + roasted.
4. BLACK BEANS: Definitely ranked high on the list of high-fiber foods. Black beans come packed with 15g of fiber in just one cup. They also come packed with an excellent source of plant protein and antioxidants that help fight free-radicals. Black beans are perfect on top of tacos or added into dips, chili, soups, and even baking— check out my Vegan Black Bean Brownies if you want to try out a baking recipe with black beans!
5. CHICKPEAS: Like black beans, chickpeas are also a very high-fiber food. In fact, they contain even more fiber than black beans— chickpeas contain 35g of fiber per cup! Roasting chickpeas in the oven with different seasonings is one of my favourite ways to enjoy them. I also like sprinkling them onto salads or buddha bowls for a fiber boost. Whether you roast them, add them to chili, use them in baking, or sprinkle them over your food, chickpeas are easy to enjoy and add into your diet.
6. LENTILS: Just one cup of lentils contains 16g of fiber. Lentils are also ranked high as a fiber-rich food source. I personally like to add lentils to dips, soups, and chili.
7. NUTS: Almonds and walnuts contain an excellent source of fiber. One cup of almonds contains 15g of fiber and one cup of walnuts contains 8g of fiber. Nuts are so easy to consume— you can simply enjoy them whole, crushed and sprinkled over salads, or blended into butters that are easy to spread on toast or add into smoothies.
8. OATS: Steel cut oats contain an excellent source of fiber. Just 1/4 cup contains 5g of fiber! Steel cut oats are minimally processed, which is why the fiber content is so rich. Oats are easy to enjoy as oatmeal, in baking, or even blended into smoothies. I recommend soaking steel cut oats 8 hours ahead of time to help soften them up.
9. FLAXSEED: Just 3 tbsp of flaxseed comes packed with 8g of fiber— they are also an excellent source of plant protein, antioxidants, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. I like to blend flaxseed into my smoothies or mix them into oatmeal. Whole flaxseed is also easy to sprinkle on top of salads for a fiber + overall nutrient boost!
10. CHIA SEEDS: Just 2 tbsp of chia seeds comes packed with 10 grams of fiber. Like flaxseed, chia seeds can be blended into smoothies, mixed in with oatmeal, or sprinkled on top of salads! Chia seeds can also be mixed into pudding— check out my chia pudding recipe if you’re interested!
To cap off today’s post, I thought I would leave you with a delicious fiber-rich smoothie blend. I hope you enjoy!
BERRY BLISS SMOOTHIE BLEND
This delicious and satisfying smoothie comes loaded with at least 17g of fiber! Depending if your protein powder contains a solid source of fiber, this blend could contain even more than 17g of fiber. This nutrient-dense smoothie is packed with an array of healthy fats, filling fiber, and protein to keep you fuelled and satisfied until your next meal.
Serves: 1 | Time: 5 minutes| Difficulty: Easy
- 2 cups unsweet cashew milk, or plant based milk of choice
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries [4g fiber]
- 2 handfuls of greens [2g fiber]
- 1/2 medium sized avocado [5g fiber]
- 2 tbsp flaxseed [6g fiber]
- 1 scoop vanilla plant based protein, or whichever protein you prefer
- Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into your favourite smoothie cup and enjoy!
Thank you for reading today’s post on fiber. I hope you have an amazing day!
Photo credit: Pinterest