Fiber is incredibly important. A fiber-rich diet helps protect against heart disease, strokes, diverticulitis and other digestive disorders. It may even help lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes, and it can help you control your weight.
There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. While soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels, the insoluble fiber aids your body in digestion and also prevents constipation.
Dietary guidelines from the United States’ Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend that men eat 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day and women eat 21 to 25 grams per day. However, the sad part is that most of us do not come close to meeting the recommended dietary intake.
Including fiber in your diet is not a difficult task, as there are plenty of foods that are rich in fiber.
However, if you are having a hard time adding fiber to your diet, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking a fiber supplement.
Also, when increasing yopur fiber intake, make sure to drink plenty of water as well because for the fiber to work properly, you need enough water which it can absorb and form into a gel-like mass.
Here are the top 10 best fiber-rich foods you should eat.
1. Split Peas
Split peas, whether green or yellow, are highly beneficial for your health due to their high fiber content. Apart from fiber, split peas contain protein, and various vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, potassium, calcium, molybdenum and manganese. Plus, this fiber-rich food is low in fats.
The fiber in split peas is helpful in dealing with digestive disorders. Also, it is useful in reducing your blood cholesterol levels, reducing cancer risk, regulating blood sugar levels, improving heart health, promoting weight control and lots more.
Just 1 cup of split peas (boiled) provides 16.3 grams of soluble fiber.
You can use split peas to prepare a protein-rich base for soups, stews and curries.
Lentils are rich in dietary fiber, both the soluble and insoluble types.
They have a significant amount of protein and make a healthy alternative to animal sources of protein. They also contain folate, magnesium, iron and zinc. Plus, they provide antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C.
By eating lentils, you can encourage regular bowel movements, prevent constipation and reduce the risk of colon cancer. They can also help control your blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, appetite and lower your risk of getting diabetes.
Just 1 cup of lentils (boiled) provides 15.6 grams of fiber.
Lentils take less time to cook and are more versatile than other legumes. You can boil lentils and include them in soups, stews and curry-based dishes.
3. Lima Beans
Lima beans are rich in both insoluble and soluble fiber.
They are also excellent sources of valuable antioxidants as well as vitamin B6, thiamine, pantothenic acid and niacin. These beans also provide several minerals, including manganese, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Plus, they are a good source of carbohydrates but without the negative effects of sugars.
Being rich in insoluble fiber, lima beans help promote digestive tract health and prevent constipation, provided they are cooked properly. Eating lima beans also helps control cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular heath, balance your blood sugar levels, and provide immense, steady and slow-burning energy.
Just 1 cup of cooked lima beans provides 14 grams of fiber.
Boiled lima beans can be added to soups, stews, salads and curry dishes. If you do not like lima beans, you can opt for other types of beans such as black beans and kidney beans.
Artichokes, a dark-colored vegetable, have a rich fiber content. One of the major sources of fiber found in artichokes is inulin, which is a prebiotic.
Other nutrients in them are vitamins A, C, E, B and K, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous. Plus, they are low in calories.
Incorporating this dark green vegetable into your diet may aid weight loss efforts. It can also help fight cardiovascular disease, detox the liver and digestive system, and help control diabetes.
Just 1 medium artichoke (boiled) provides 10.3 grams of fiber, which meets nearly half of the recommend fiber intake for women and one-third for men.
You can steam, boil or bake artichokes, and they can be eaten warm or cold.
The creamy avocado is another fiber-rich fruit that you must include in your diet.
This superfood also has plenty of heart-healthy fats as well as vitamins C, E and K, potassium, B vitamins, copper, iron, phosphorus, protein and folate.
Including avocados in your diet can help keep your digestive system healthy as well as lower your cholesterol level, improve your heart health, promote weight loss, regulate your blood sugar and lots more.
Just 1 medium avocado contains around 10 to 12 grams of fiber.
As avocados are high in calories, aim to include ½ of an avocado daily in your diet. You can make guacamole and other dips or add it to salads, smoothies or sandwiches. You can even use it as a healthy substitute for butter or cream on bread and toast.
When it comes to fruits rich in fiber, raspberries are great. Some of the fiber is soluble fiber in the form of pectin, which lowers cholesterol.
These tiny berries are also high in vitamin C, B-complex, manganese, copper, magnesium and iron. Furthermore, they are very low in calories.
Being high in fiber, raspberries help regulate the digestive system, lower blood cholesterol levels, control blood sugar levels and aid weight loss. They also help prevent cell damage due to free radicals.
Just 1 cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber.
You can enjoy the juicy and tangy fruit as a snack or mix them in with your morning oats, yogurt or cereal.
7. Chia Seeds
The high fiber content is one of the reasons why chia seeds are gaining huge popularity in recent times.
Apart from fiber, these tiny seeds are rich in vitamin C, protein, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and magnesium. They also contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Furthermore, chia seeds do not contain any grain or gluten.
Being high in dietary fiber, chia seeds help promote bowel regularity and healthy stools. Eating chia seeds on a regular basis can help deliver an energy boost, aid weight loss, and protect against diabetes, liver disease and heart disease.
Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds has a whopping 5.5 grams of fiber.
You can sprinkle soaked chia seeds into soups, salads, smoothies and juices or eat them plain.
Quinoa, technically a seed not a grain, contains almost twice as much fiber as most grains.
This complete protein food is rich in fiber. It has other notable nutrients, including iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, folate and zinc.
Apart from relieving constipation, quinoa helps prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. It may also help you lose weight.
Just 1 cup of cooked quinoa provides 5 grams of fiber.
The crunchy texture and nutty flavor of quinoa work well as a side dish or breakfast porridge. Boiled quinoa can also be added to salads or soups.
No matter what type of oatmeal or how you prepare it, oatmeal is a good source of fiber. Oats contain a powerful soluble fiber known as beta-glucan, which has major beneficial effects on blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
In fact, oats are one of the healthiest grains on the planet. Apart from fiber, this cereal grain is loaded with protein and nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, folate and omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, they contain powerful phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Just 1 cup of oatmeal (instant and cooked) provides 4 grams of fiber.
Looking at the fiber content of oatmeal, it is a wise decision to start your day with a hearty bowl of oatmeal.
One of the healthiest tree nuts, almonds also fall in the category of fiber-rich foods. These small nuts are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Almonds also boast an impressive nutrient profile. They contain protein, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium. They also have a decent amount of copper, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and phosphorus.
Apart from improving digestive health, a few almonds a day can help promote heart health, prevent weight gain and fight diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Just 1 ounce (23 nuts) of almonds provides 3.5 grams of fiber.
You can have dry roasted almonds as snacks and add them to cereals, baked goods, yogurt and salads. As almonds are also high in calories, you must not consume them in excess.
Other Good Sources of Fiber:
Flaxseeds, figs, pears, apples, air-popped popcorn, brown rice, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, kidney beans, bran flakes, oranges and lots more.