18 High-Fibre Foods You Should Eat
Fibre has been shown to have numerous health benefits including improved digestion, gut health and immunity, as well as weight loss and satiety; however, this simple and essential nutrient is often overlooked. Believe it or not, the average Canadian only consumes half of their recommended daily intake of fibre making it a massive missed health opportunity. The good news is eating more fibre is easy when you know what foods to reach for and how to cook with them. So, to help keep you in the know, here is a list of 18 high-fibre foods you can start eating today.
Why Eat More Fibre?
Fibre is the indigestible carbohydrate found in plant foods that helps to sweep the colon, feed our gut bacteria, and slow the digestion of food. Fibre-rich foods have been shown to promote gut health as fibre encourages the “good” bacteria in our digestive tract, and fibre helps to slow digestion and the absorption of sugar to the bloodstream which helps to control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. Moreover, diets rich in high-fibre foods have also been shown to help regulate weight and appetite by keeping people fuller for longer periods of time. According to Health Canada, women should consume 25 grams of fibre per day and men should consume 38 grams of fibre per day, however, most Canadians only get half of their recommended intake.
Types of Fibre: Soluble vs. Insoluble Fibre
There are two types of dietary fibre: soluble fibre and insoluble fibre, and they are found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. The fibres found in these foods can be analyzed to determine how easily they dissolve in water; fibres with a strong tendency to absorb water and turn into a gel-like substance are classified as “soluble” (think about what happens if you add water to oats), while those that don’t are classified as “insoluble” (think about what happens if you add water to celery). Soluble fibre includes pectins and beta-glucans and provides support for blood sugar balance, cardiovascular health, and satisfaction of appetite, while insoluble fibre helps to provide bulk to the stool and support the rate of speed at which food is passed through the digestive tract. Both soluble fibre and insoluble fibre are integral for optimal health and eating a wide variety of fibre-rich foods can help to ensure that you are consuming adequate amounts of both forms.
Fortunately, increasing your fibre intake is relatively easy; by simply integrating more high-fibre foods into your meals you can help to reach your recommended daily fibre intake without much trouble. In order to help you do so, here are 18 high-fibre foods that you can start eating today and some healthy recipes to help you do so.
1. Green Peas
A freezer staple, the humble green pea is a surprisingly rich source of dietary fibre. Although often considered a vegetable, green peas are actually part of the legume family along with lentils, chickpeas and beans, given the plant produces pods with little seeds insides. Peas are a source of complex carbohydrate, with a relatively high fibre content compared to other vegetables, and they are also a rich source of polyphenol antioxidants, which have been shown to have numerous health benefits. Not only do green peas make a great side dish, but they can easily be added to salads, casseroles, stews, and soups, like this Sweet Pea Soup, for a quick and easy boost of fibre.
Fibre Content: 6 grams per 100 grams, or 9 grams per 1 cup. (1)
Raspberries are a sweet and tart fruit that are low in calories and high in fibre. Raspberries are also a rich source of vitamin C and contain a remarkable amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. To reap all of their benefits and fibre content, raspberries can be on their own (eaten fresh or frozen), added to yogurt, topped on oatmeal or cereal, or baked right into a healthy treat like these Raspberry Yogurt Muffins.
Fibre Content: 6.5 grams per 100 grams, or 8 grams per 1 cup. (2)
Red, green, yellow or brown, lentils are one of the best high-fibre foods because they are inexpensive to buy and versatile to cook with, making them a great ingredient for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Lentils pair well with eggs or meats, vegetables or salads, or can be cooked right into soups or stews like this Green Lentils & Spinach Curry for a high-fibre meal that is packed full of plant-based protein, healthy fats and vegetables.
Fibre Content: 8 grams per 100 grams or 15 grams per 1 cup cooked. (3)
4. Navy Beans
Also known as haricot beans or white beans, navy beans are part of the legume family and are an excellent source of dietary fibre, specifically the soluble type. Not to mention, beans are also a source of plant-based protein and a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, potassium and folate. Navy beans can be eaten hot or cold, added to salads, curries or stews, or blended right into dips, sauces or soups, like this Roasted Tomato & White Bean Soup, to help provide a punch of protein and creamy texture at the same time.
Fibre Content: 10.5 grams per 100 grams, or 19 grams per 1 cup cooked. (4)
Oats are among some of the most nutrient-rich grains on the planet given they are a source of vitamins, minerals and soluble fibre, specifically beta-glucans, which have been shown to have beneficial effects on blood sugar. The bran, or outer-layer of the whole-grain, contains the highest level of fibre, however, all forms of edible oats (steel-cut, rolled, or quick-cooking) will contain beneficial dietary fibre. Oats can be eaten on their own as a humble bowl of oatmeal, added of baked foods, soaked for overnight oats, or cooked into a Mixed Berry Baked Oatmeal as a simple meal prep idea that will give you a high-fibre breakfast every morning of the week.
Fibre Content: 10 grams per 100 grams, or 4 gram per 1/2 cup dry. (5)
6. Black Beans
Similar to navy beans, black beans are part of the legume family and are a dietary staple that has been used by various cultures for generations. A rich source of fibre, plant-based protein and folate, black beans have been shown to be effective at reducing the rise in blood sugar after a meal compared to other high-carb foods. Black beans have traditionally been paired with rice, but can be eaten cold or warm, like in this Smoky Quinoa & Black Bean Stew.
Fibre Content: 9 grams per 100 grams, or 15 grams per 1 cup cooked. (6)
Contrary to many other forms of fruit, avocado is a rich source of fat as opposed to carbohydrates; however, it still contains a substantial amount of dietary fibre, specifically insoluble fibre. Given it adheres to water rather than dissolving it in, the insoluble fibre found in avocado can help to support digestion and help to prevent constipation and strained bowel movements. Not only are avocados delicious on their own, mashed into guacamole or added to salads, but they are deliciously blended into smoothies, like this Blueberry Avocado Smoothie, for an extra rich and creamy texture.
Fibre Content: 7 grams per 100 grams, or 10 grams per 1 cup cubed. (7)
8. Whole-Grain Bread
It’s important to understand that not all forms of bread are created equal, however, high-quality whole-grain bread or sprouted grain bread can be considered a rich source of fibre. Given whole-grain bread is made with whole-grain flours, which are made by grinding the entire grain, all parts intact, the inclusion of the bran and germ helps to increase the overall fibre contain. Whole-grain bread can come in many forms, however, if you are unsure what to look for be sure to review my guide to buying healthy bread so you know exactly what to shop for.
Fibre Content: 6 grams per 100 grams, or 2 grams per 1 slice. (8)
Along with beans and lentils, chickpeas are part of the legume family and are a rich source of both soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. Chickpeas can be found dry or canned, however, dried chickpeas must be soaked and simmered before being incorporated into dishes. Regardless of the format, chickpeas are a rich source of fibre and plant-based protein that can be roasted into snacks, added to salads, soups, stews or one-pot meals like this Yellow Squash & Chickpea Curry.
Fibre Content: 8 grams per 100 grams, or 13 gram per 1 cup cooked. (9)
10. Collard Greens
Collards are a leafy green vegetable and are a member of the same group of plants that also includes kale, turnips, and mustard, and are a rich source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and fibre. Although collards can technically be eaten raw, they are much easier to digest (not to mention flavourful) once cooked and are great chopped and added to soups or stews, or cooked on their own in some healthy fats for a quick and easy side dish like this Sautéed Garlic Greens.
Fibre Content: 4 grams per 100 grams, or 2 grams per 1 cup raw. (10)
Similar to carrots but often forgotten, parsnips are a root vegetable and a great source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Parsnips are a versatile and inexpensive ingredient that can be used as a substitution to carrots or potatoes. Whether they are steamed, baked, mashed or roasted into Oven-Baked Parsnip Fries, there are plenty of different ways to use this humble, high-fibre food.
Fibre Content: 5 grams per 100 grams, or 6.5 grams per 1 cup raw. (11)
12. Brussel Sprouts
Along with broccoli, cauliflower and a multitude of cabbage varieties, Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables and are a rich source of equal amounts of soluble and insoluble fibre. Brussel sprouts can be eaten raw in salads, sautéed, steamed or roasted, like in this Green Vegetable Tray Bake, for a hearty and high-fibre side dish.
Fibre Content: 4 grams per 100 grams, or 3 grams per 1 cup raw. (12)
Beets, or beetroot, are a root vegetable that is low in calories and packed full essential nutrients that have been used in cuisines around the world for centuries. Beets are a source of complex carbohydrates that are rich in fibre and their rich red-pink pigment has been shown to contain various compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. Beets can be consumed raw, pickled or roasted and added to dishes and salads, like thus French Lentil & Beet Salad, for a high-fibre meal.
Fibre Content: 3 grams per 100 grams, or 1 gram per 1 cup raw. (13)
With their mild and sweet taste and fibrous centre, pears are one of the highest fibre fruits. Pears, specifically their skin, in all forms and types are a rich source of soluble fibre, as well as vitamin C, potassium and various antioxidants. Pears are a fantastic portable snack, can be cooked into savoury and sweet dishes, like this Slow Cooker Cardamom Pear Oatmeal, and are one of the best high-fibre foods around.
Fibre Content: 4 grams per 100 grams, or 4 grams per 1 medium pear. (14)
Although often overlooked, cabbage is an incredibly nutrient-dense and high-fibre food. In fact, the use of cabbage can be dated back thousands of years and seen in cultures around the world used in a variety of different dishes including sauerkraut, kimchi and coleslaw. Not only is cabbage a source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, but it is good source folate and vitamins C and K, along with other antioxidants. Cabbage can be eaten raw, roasted, pickled or fermented, or cooked right into a simple dish like this Rainbow Chicken Stir-Fry.
Fibre Content: 2.5 grams per 100 grams, or 2 grams per 1 cup raw. (15)
Similar to pears, the skin of the apple is a great source of dietary fibre so it’s best to eat the whole apple for all of its health benefits. Not only are apples a convenient, portable and inexpensive snack, but are great raw or cooked, baked into oatmeal or muffins, slow-cooked into sauces, or roasted into a simple condiment for meats like in this Roasted Pork with Spiced Apple.
Fibre Content: 2.5 grams per 100 grams, or 4.5 grams per 1 medium apple. (16)
Another member of the cruciferous vegetable family and one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables, broccoli is a high-fibre food rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, B vitamins, potassium, iron and manganese. Thanks to its hearty texture, broccoli works well in stir-fries, soups or stews; roasted, steamed or raw; or added to salads like this Make-Ahead Broccoli & Quinoa Salad for a hearty and healthy meal.
Fibre Content: 2.5 grams per 100 grams, or 2.5 grams per 1 cup raw. (17)
Although all leafy greens contain some fibre, spinach deserves a special shout-out because of its high iron content, rich green colour and versatility. Not only can spinach be consumed raw in salads, but once cooked into wilts down in size allowing it to be added to just about any dish. You can easily cook a few handfuls of spinach into your favourite casserole, soup or stew, blend it into a smoothie, or whip up a healthy Spinach & Artichoke Dip for a fibre-rich snack.
Fibre Content: 2 grams per 100 grams, or 1 gram per 1 cup raw. (18)
The Bottom Line
Fibre is an essential nutrient for optimal health and including a wide variety of high-fibre foods in the diet can help to increase your overall fibre intake of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Whenever possible, aim to eat a variety of fresh whole foods, such as beans, lentils, vegetables and fruit, and when purchasing pre-made or packaged foods be sure to read the ingredients and nutrition label and opt for versions with higher fibre content to help ensure you are consuming your recommended dietary fibre intake on a daily basis.