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Best High Fiber Foods: Exploring the Fiber-Rich Foods

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Many of us associate fiber with digestive health and bowel function. But eating High Fiber Foods high in dietary fiber can do much more than keep you regular. It can lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, improve the health of your skin, and help you lose weight. It may also help prevent colon cancer.

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What is fiber?

Fiber, also known as roughage, is part of plant-based foods (grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans) that the body can’t break down. It passes through the body undigested, keeping your digestive system clean and healthy by promoting regular, complete bowel movements. It also binds with cholesterol and harmful carcinogens so that they can be removed from the body.

Fiber comes in two varieties: insoluble and soluble.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It is the fiber that helps prevent constipation by adding bulk to the stool. It is found in whole grains, whole grains, and vegetables such as carrots, celery, and tomatoes.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps control blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. It can also strengthen loose stools, as the soluble fiber forms a gel with fluid in the intestine. Good sources include barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts, and fruits such as apples, berries, citrus fruits, and pears.

Many foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. In general, the more natural and unprocessed the food, the more fiber it contains. There is no fiber in meat, dairy, or sugar. Refined or “white” foods, such as white bread, white rice, and pastries, have had all or most of their fiber removed.

The health benefits of fiber

The latest figures show that nine out of ten Americans aren’t eating enough fiber—and people in other parts of the world are falling well off, too. Part of the problem may be due to the association with bathroom habits. Yes, fiber provides a healthy and effective way to stay regular, but that’s not the only reason we should include more in our diets. Several different studies have highlighted that eating a diet high in fiber can boost your immune system overall health, and how you look and feel.

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Some of the benefits include:

Digestive health. Dietary fiber normalizes bowel movements by bulging stools and making them easier to pass. It can help relieve and prevent both constipation and diarrhea. Eating plenty of fiber can reduce your risk for diverticulitis (inflammation of the small pouches in the wall of the intestine), hemorrhoids, gallstones, and kidney stones, and provide some relief for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some studies have also indicated that a high-fiber diet may help control stomach acid and reduce your risk for gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and ulcers.

Diabetes. A diet high in fiber—especially insoluble fiber from grains—may reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes, eating soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and improve your blood sugar levels.

Cancer. There is some research that suggests that eating a high fiber foods diet may help prevent colorectal cancer, although the evidence is not yet conclusive. Diets rich in high fiber foods are also associated with a lower risk for other common digestive tract cancers, including the stomach, mouth, and pharynx.

Skin health. When yeast and fungi are excreted through the skin, they can trigger outbreaks of acne. Eating fiber, especially psyllium husk (a type of plant seed), can bind and remove toxins from your body, improving the health and appearance of your skin.

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Cardiovascular health. Fiber, especially soluble fiber, is an important element of any heart-healthy diet. Eating a diet high in fiber can improve cholesterol levels by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol. Soluble fiber in particular helps bind bad cholesterol and prevents it from accumulating in the body. A high fiber intake may also lower your risk for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors associated with coronary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Fiber can also help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and reduce excess weight around the belly.

Fiber and weight loss

As well as aiding digestion and preventing constipation, fiber adds bulk to your diet, an important factor in both losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. Adding bulk can help you feel full sooner. Since fiber stays in the stomach longer than other foods, the feeling of fullness will stay with you longer, helping you eat less. High fiber foods like fruits and vegetables are low in calories, so by adding fiber to your diet, it’s easy to cut calories.

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There are other ways that a high fiber intake can aid weight loss:

  • By regulating your blood sugar levels, it can help maintain your body’s fat-burning ability and avoid insulin spikes that make you feel drained and crave unhealthy foods.
  • Eating lots of fiber can move fat through your digestive tract at a faster rate so that less of it can be absorbed.
  • When you fill up on high fiber foods like fruit, you’ll also have more energy to exercise.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

Minimum recommended daily intake (in grams)
Age Male Female
9-13 31 26
14-18 38 26
19-30 38 25
31-50 38 25
51-70 30 21
Over 70 30 21


Tips for adding fiber to your diet

Depending on your age and gender, nutritionists recommend you eat at least 21 to 38 grams of fiber per day for optimal health. Research suggests that most of us aren’t eating half of that amount.

While hitting your daily goal may seem overwhelming at first, filling up on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds can help you get the fiber you need to reap the health benefits.

Fiber from whole grains

Refined or processed foods are low in fiber content, so try to make whole grains an integral part of your diet. There are many simple ways to incorporate whole grains into your meals.

Start your day with fiber. Look for whole-grain cereals to boost your fiber intake at breakfast. Simply switching your breakfast cereals from corn flakes to bran flakes can add an extra 6 grams of fiber to your diet; Switching to all-bran or fiber-one will aggravate it even more. If those cereals aren’t to your liking, try adding a few teaspoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.

Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with brown rice and whole-grain products. Choose whole-grain bread for toast and sandwiches. Experiment with wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta, and bulgur. These options are higher in fiber than their more mainstream counterparts—and you may find that you love their taste. If you’ve never eaten whole-wheat products or it’s been a while, start by replacing half of your regular product (like pasta) with a whole-wheat version to use for flavor.

Read nutrition labels. Check that the ingredient listed first includes the words “whole,” such as whole wheat flour, whole corn meal, or whole oats. “Wheat flour” is not a whole grain, but just another term for white or all-purpose flour.

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Bulk up your baking. When baking at home, substitute whole-grain flour for half of the white flour, as whole-grain flour is heavier than white flour. In yeast slices of bread, use a little more yeast or allow the dough to rise longer. Try adding crushed bran cereal or unprocessed wheat bran to muffins, cakes, and cookies. Or add psyllium husk to gluten-free baked goods, such as bread, pizza dough, and pasta.

Add flaxseed. Flaxseeds are tiny brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your total blood cholesterol. Ground flaxseed is best because the body cannot break the outer hull, so it will pass through the intestine undigested. You can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and add to yogurt, applesauce, or breakfast cereals. You can also buy it pre-ground, but store it in the fridge, as the heart-healthy fats it contains can oxidize and spoil quickly.

High Fiber Foods and vegetables

Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which is another good reason to include more in your daily diet. Here are some simple strategies that can help:

Include fruit in your breakfast. Berries are high in fiber, so try adding fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries to your morning cereal or yogurt

Keep fruits and vegetables at your fingertips. Wash and chop fruits and vegetables and keep them in your refrigerator for quick and healthy snacks. Choose recipes that include these high-fiber ingredients, like veggie stir-fries or fruit salads.

Replace dessert with fruit. Eat a piece of fruit, such as a banana, apple, or pear, at the end of the meal instead of dessert. Top with cream or frozen yogurt for a tasty treat.

Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juice. You’ll get more fiber and consume fewer calories. For example, an 8 oz. glass of orange juice has almost no fiber and about 110 calories, while a medium fresh orange has about 3 grams of fiber and only 60 calories.

Eat the peel. Peeling can reduce the amount of fiber in fruits and vegetables, so eat fruit peels like apples and pears.

Include vegetables in your cooking. Add pre-chopped fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix sliced frozen broccoli into a prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews.

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Bulk up soups and salads. Liven up a lingering salad by adding nuts, seeds, kidney beans, peas, or black beans. Artichokes are also very high in fiber and can be added to salads or eaten as a snack. Beans, peas, lentils, and rice make delicious high-fiber additions to soups and stews.

Count the snacks. Fresh and dried fruits, raw vegetables, and whole-grain crackers are all good ways to add fiber to snack time. A handful of nuts can also make a healthy, high-fiber snack.

Making the switch to a high-fiber diet

If you’re new to eating high fiber foods, it’s best to start by gradually adding fiber to your diet and increasing your water intake. Fiber absorbs water so the more fiber you add to your diet, the more fluid you should drink.

Suddenly adding large amounts of fiber to your diet can sometimes cause side effects like stomach cramps, intestinal gas, bloating or diarrhea. You may also get constipation if you increase fiber without increasing your fluid intake. These symptoms should go away once your digestive system gets used to the extra fiber.

Good Sources of Fiber

Food Serving size Fibergrams
Fiber One 1/2 cup 14
All-Bran 1/2 cup 10
Bran Flakes 1 cup 7
Shredded Wheat 1 cup 6
Oatmeal (cooked) 1 cup 4
Spinach (cooked) 1 cup 4
Broccoli 1/2 cup 3
Carrots 1 medium 2
Brussels sprouts 1/2 cup 2
Green beans 1/2 cup 2
Baked goods
Whole-wheat bread 1 slice 3
Bran muffin 1 2
Rye bread 1 slice 2
Rice cakes 2 1
Legumes (cooked)
Lentils 1/2 cup 8
Kidney beans 1/2 cup 6
Lima beans 1/2 cup 6
Baked beans (canned)** 1/2 cup 5
Green peas 1/2 cup 4
Grains (cooked)
Barley 1 cup 9
Wheat bran, dry 1/4 cup 6
Spaghetti, whole wheat 1 cup 4
Brown rice 1 cup 4
Bulger 1/2 cup 4
Pear (with skin) 1 medium 6
Apple (with skin) 1 medium 4
Strawberries (fresh) 1 cup 4
Banana 1 medium 3
Orange 1 medium 3
Dried fruit
Prunes 6 12
Apricots 5 halves 2
Raisins 1/4 cup 2
Dates 3 2
Plums 3 2
Nuts and seeds
Peanuts, dry roasted* 1/4 cup 3
Walnuts 1/4 cup 2
Popcorn* 1 cup 1
Peanuts* 10 1
Filberts, raw 10 1


Fiber in fast food

Fast food is often cheap and convenient, but finding healthy meals with enough fiber can be a challenge. Many fast food meals are packed with calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats with little or no dietary fiber. Even seemingly healthy salads from fast food restaurants are often light on fiber—simple salad greens provide just 0.5 grams of fiber per cup. Look for salads that include other vegetables, and whenever possible, increase the fiber content by adding your own nuts, beans, or corn.

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Other tips for getting more fiber from meals at fast food restaurants:

  • Choose sandwiches, burgers, or subs that come on a whole-wheat bun or whole-grain bread.
  • Try a veggie burger. Many taste much better than they used to and have two or three times more fiber than meat burgers.
  • Opt for a side of beans for a healthy fiber boost.
  • Choose nuts or salad over fries or potato chips.
  • The combination of a baked potato and a side of chili, available at some burger chains, can make a delicious, high-fiber meal.
  • Many chains offer oatmeal bowls for breakfast, a high-fiber option compared to most breakfast sandwiches. Try to choose a lower Chinese version if possible.
  • Finish a fast-food meal with a fruit cup, fruit and yogurt parfait, apple slices, or a piece of fresh fruit.


This article is purposive for intended general information and does not mark individual circumstances. It is not an alternative to professional advice or help. It should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician must be consulted to diagnose and treat any medical condition. Any action you take due to the information on this page is entirely at your own risk and responsibility!

Sharing Is Caring:

Rishi Govind is a nutritionist and nutrition counselor in New Delhi, India. He is a Postgraduate and passionate about his work. Rishi has over 3 years of experience helping people change their relationship with food and their bodies. He specializes in helping people with chronic dieting issues, food allergies and sensitivities, and digestive problems. Rishi's approach is rooted in the belief that everybody is unique and deserves individualized attention. Rishi is passionate about helping his clients feel their best. He is committed to helping them find peace with food and their bodies so they can live their lives to the fullest.

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