Fiber is an essential nutrient that offers many benefits for your health, such as improving your digestion, lowering your cholesterol, and helping you manage your weight. But are you getting enough fiber in your diet? According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, most Americans are only consuming half of the recommended amount of fiber, which is 25 grams for women and 31 grams for men per day. To help you increase your fiber intake, here are 11 high-fiber foods that you can easily incorporate into your everyday diet.
Raspberries are not only delicious, but also rich in fiber. One cup of fresh raspberries provides about 8 grams of fiber, which is almost a third of the daily value for women. Raspberries also contain antioxidants, vitamin C, and manganese, which can protect your cells from damage and support your immune system. You can enjoy raspberries as a snack, add them to your yogurt or oatmeal, or blend them into a smoothie.
Oatmeal: A Filling and Versatile Breakfast
Oatmeal is a classic breakfast food that can keep you satisfied for hours. One cup of cooked oatmeal has about 4 grams of fiber, most of which is soluble. Soluble fiber can help lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels by slowing down the absorption of glucose and binding to bile acids in your intestines. Oatmeal also contains beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been shown to boost your immune system and lower your risk of infections. You can make oatmeal more interesting by adding fruits, nuts, seeds, or spices.
Beans: A Plant-Based Protein Powerhouse
Beans are a great source of both protein and fiber, making them a staple for vegetarian and vegan diets. One cup of cooked beans can provide about 15 grams of fiber, depending on the type. Beans also contain resistant starch, a type of fiber that resists digestion and feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. These bacteria can produce short-chain fatty acids, which can lower inflammation, improve your intestinal health, and protect you from colon cancer. You can use beans in soups, salads, burritos, or hummus.
Lentils: A Nutritious Addition to Any Meal
Lentils are another member of the legume family that are high in fiber and protein. One cup of cooked lentils has about 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. Lentils also contain iron, folate, and polyphenols, which are plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Lentils can help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels by improving your blood vessel function and insulin sensitivity. You can cook lentils as a side dish, add them to curries or stews, or make them into patties or burgers.
Nuts and Seeds: A Crunchy and Healthy Snack
Nuts and seeds are not only tasty, but also packed with fiber and healthy fats. A handful of nuts or seeds can provide about 3 to 5 grams of fiber, depending on the variety. Nuts and seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium, which can support your brain, heart, and skin health. Nuts and seeds can help lower your cholesterol levels, reduce your appetite, and prevent weight gain by increasing your metabolism and fat burning. You can snack on nuts and seeds raw or roasted, sprinkle them on salads or cereals, or make them into nut butters or milks.
Kiwis: A Tropical Fruit with Surprising Benefits
Kiwis are a refreshing fruit that can offer more than just vitamin C. One medium kiwi has about 2 grams of fiber and 64 milligrams of vitamin C, which is more than the daily value for adults. Kiwis also contain actinidin, a natural enzyme that can break down proteins and improve your digestion. Kiwis can help relieve constipation by increasing the frequency and softness of your stools. You can eat kiwis as they are or add them to salads or smoothies.
Non-Starchy Vegetables: A Colorful Way to Boost Your Fiber Intake
Non-starchy vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber and other nutrients. Examples of non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, carrots, celery, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini. One cup of raw non-starchy vegetables can provide about 2 to 4 grams of fiber, as well as vitamins A, K, C , folate, and potassium. Non-starchy vegetables can help lower your blood pressure, prevent oxidative stress, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. You can eat non-starchy vegetables raw or cooked, in salads or stir-fries, or as snacks with dips.
Barley: A Whole Grain with Multiple Benefits
Barley is a whole grain that can add texture and flavor to your meals. One cup of cooked barley has about 6 grams of fiber, most of which is insoluble. Barley also contains beta-glucan, the same type of soluble fiber found in oatmeal. Beta-glucan can help lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels by forming a gel-like substance in your gut that binds to bile acids and delays glucose absorption. Barley can also improve your gut health by increasing the diversity and activity of your gut bacteria. You can use barley in soups, stews, salads, or risottos.
Quinoa: A Gluten-Free Alternative to Rice
Quinoa is a gluten-free pseudo-cereal that can be used as a substitute for rice or other grains. One cup of cooked quinoa has about 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. Quinoa also contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. Quinoa also contains iron, zinc, magnesium, and antioxidants, which can support your immune system and prevent anemia. Quinoa can help regulate your blood sugar levels by slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates and increasing the release of insulin. You can cook quinoa as a side dish, add it to salads or bowls, or make it into porridge or muffins.
Apples: A Fruit that Keeps the Doctor Away
Apples are a popular fruit that can satisfy your sweet tooth and provide you with fiber. One medium apple with the skin has about 4 grams of fiber, half of which is pectin, a type of soluble fiber that can lower your cholesterol and blood sugar levels by forming a gel in your gut that traps bile acids and glucose. Apples also contain polyphenols, which are plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Apples can help protect you from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer by improving your blood vessel function, insulin sensitivity, fat metabolism, and immune response. You can eat apples as they are or bake them into pies or cakes.
Brussels Sprouts: A Cruciferous Vegetable with Cancer-Fighting Properties
Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable that belong to the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage. One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has about 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Brussels sprouts also contain glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds that can be converted into isothiocyanates in your body. Isothiocyanates can inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells by modulating their gene expression and signaling pathways. Brussels sprouts can also help detoxify your body by activating enzymes that eliminate harmful substances from your liver. You can roast Brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt, steam them with lemon juice and garlic, or shred them into salads or slaws.