Adding few foods high in fiber to your meal plan can improve your health and digestion.
We consume less than the recommended fiber intake because our regular diets are full of foods that just don’t have any of that needed bulk. “The standard western diet is one that is high in animal products, such as meat, cheese, and milk, and refined grain products,” said Selene Vakharia, a holistic nutritionist and lifestyle consultant. “These foods are not adequate sources of fibre.” When we’ve filled ourselves up on these low-fiber foods, we haven’t left ourselves much room in our stomachs or on our plates for foods high in fiber, explained Vakharia.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber slows digestion and helps you feel full for longer. It may also help to prevent or control diabetes because of its effect on blood sugar, and is related to heart health because it can help lower LDL or “lethal” cholesterol. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your waste, helping to prevent constipation and keep your bowels working well. We need both types of fiber in our diets.
When upping to foods high in fiber, Vakharia advised, make sure you increase your water intake as well. This is particularly important when you’re supplementing with high fiber doses or taking flax seeds, she said. Also, it’s better to increase slowly, to give your body time to adjust and avoid stomach problems. And if you’ve been advised by your doctor to eat a low-fiber diet for medical reasons, speak to him or her before adding fiber-rich foods.
Here are 11 foods high in fiber you can add to your diet. Include a new one each week and you’ll be hitting those intake recommendations in no time!
Apples: Add fiber to the list of ways that an apple a day could keep the doctor away, this fruit is an inexpensive and easily available source of fiber. As with other fruits and veggies with edible peels, eat your apple naturally. The peels are an important source of fiber and nutrients like phytochemicals, Vakharia said.
Broccoli: You should have listened to your parents when they told you to eat your broccoli. A cup of chopped raw broccoli has 2.4 grams of fiber, along with a huge dose of vitamin C and vitamin K. If you’re cooking it, don’t overcook, steam or saute until it’s bright green, and leave a bit of bite to help maintain some of the fiber and nutrients.
Pears: There’s a reason that parents give babies stewed pears when they’re stopped up, one medium pear has 5.5 grams of fiber, which definitely goes a long way towards getting things moving along.
Parsnip: If you love carrots, give parsnip a try. This veggie looks like white carrots but has a distinct and delicious taste. You can use it all the same ways you’d use a carrot, or even use it as a potato sub. It tastes great mashed! A nine-inch-long cooked parsnip has 5.8 grams of fiber.
Carrots: Here’s another childhood classic that really was good for you. Along with being a great source of betacarotene, carrots are a source of fiber, a 100-gram serving of raw baby carrots has 2.9 grams of fiber, and a half cup of cooked carrots has 2.3 grams.
Spinach: Throw a handful of sweet-tasting baby spinach in your smoothies to get some extra fiber, along with an iron boost. A bunch of raw spinach has 7.5 grams of fibre.
Quinoa: Quinoa is technically a seed, not a grain, but it’s a great source of fibre with 5.2 grams in a one-cup serving (cooked). It’s also a source of protein, with 8.1 grams per cooked cup.
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Amaranth: Like quinoa, tiny amaranth is a seed but acts like a grain and can be used like one in cooking. It’s another fiber superstar, with 5.2 grams per one-cup serving. Try adding it to soups, where it’ll cook quickly, absorb the flavors, and add some protein along with its fiber content.
Legumes: Many global cuisines are rich in legumes, and for good reason: they’re a great fiber source and also provide a vegetarian source of protein. For example, quick-cooking red lentils have 4 grams of fiber per half-cup serving, before cooking.
Beans: Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart and your colon. These nutritional superstars are full of fiber, for example, cooked black beans have 15 grams per one-cup serving, and white beans have a whopping 18.6 grams in the same amount. Up your bean intake slowly if you’re not used to eating them, to give your digestive system time to adjust.
Flax Seeds: Flax seeds are great because they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, and our body needs both kinds for different reasons. One tablespoon serving of ground flax seeds has 1.9 grams of fiber.