18 High-Fiber Foods You Should Eat
Fiber 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 fiber making it a massive missed health opportunity. The good news is eating more fiber 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-fiber foods you can start eating today.
Why Eat More Fiber?
Fiber is the indigestible carbohydrate found in plant foods that helps to sweep the colon, feed our gut bacteria, and slow the digestion of food. Fiber-rich foods have been shown to promote gut health as fiber encourages the “good” bacteria in our digestive tract, and fiber 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-fiber 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 fiber per day and men should consume 38 grams of fiber per day, however, most Canadians only get half of their recommended intake.
Types of Fiber: Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, and they are found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. The fibers found in these foods can be analyzed to determine how easily they dissolve in water; fibers 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 fiber includes pectins and beta-glucans and provides support for blood sugar balance, cardiovascular health, and satisfaction of appetite, while insoluble fiber helps to provide bulk to the stool and supports the rate of speed at which food is passed through the digestive tract. Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber are integral for optimal health and eating a wide variety of fiber-rich foods can help to ensure that you are consuming adequate amounts of both forms.
List of High-Fiber Foods
Fortunately, increasing your fiber intake is relatively easy; by simply integrating more high-fiber foods into your meals you can help to reach your recommended daily fiber intake without much trouble. In order to help you do so, here are 18 high-fiber 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 fiber. 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 inside. Peas are a source of complex carbohydrates, with a relatively high fiber 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 fiber.
Fiber Content: 6 grams per 100 grams, or 9 grams per 1 cup. (1)
Raspberries are a sweet and tart fruit that is low in calories and high in fiber. 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 fiber 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.
Fiber 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-fiber 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-fiber meal that is packed full of plant-based protein, healthy fats, and vegetables.
Fiber 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 fiber, 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.
Fiber 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 fiber, 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 fiber, however, all forms of edible oats (steel-cut, rolled, or quick-cooking) will contain beneficial dietary fiber. Oats can be eaten on their own as a humble bowl of oatmeal, added to 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-fiber breakfast every morning of the week.
Fiber 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 fiber, 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.
Fiber 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 fiber, specifically insoluble fiber. Given it adheres to water rather than dissolving it, the insoluble fiber 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.
Fiber 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 fiber. Given whole-grain bread is made with whole-grain flours, which is made by grinding the entire grain, all parts intact, the inclusion of the bran and germ helps to increase the overall fiber content. 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.
Fiber 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 fiber and insoluble fiber. 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 fiber and plant-based protein that can be roasted into snacks and added to salads, soups, stews, or one-pot meals like this Yellow Squash & Chickpea Curry.
Fiber 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 fiber. 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.
Fiber 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 fiber. Parsnips are a versatile and inexpensive ingredient that can be used as a substitution for 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-fiber food.
Fiber 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 fiber. Brussel sprouts can be eaten raw in salads, sautéed, steamed, or roasted, like in this Green Vegetable Tray Bake, for a hearty and high-fiber side dish.
Fiber 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 of essential nutrients that have been used in cuisines around the world for centuries. Beets are a source of complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber 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-fiber meal.
Fiber Content: 3 grams per 100 grams, or 1 gram per 1 cup raw. (13)
With their mild and sweet taste and fibrous center, pears are one of the highest-fiber fruits. Pears, specifically their skin, in all forms and types are a rich source of soluble fiber, as well as vitamin C, potassium, and various antioxidants. Pears are a fantastic portable snack, can be cooked into savory and sweet dishes, like this Slow Cooker Cardamom Pear Oatmeal, and are one of the best high-fiber foods around.
Fiber 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-fiber food. In fact, the use of cabbage can be dated back thousands of years and is 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 fiber, but it is a good source of 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.
Fiber 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 fiber 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.
Fiber 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-fiber 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.
Fiber Content: 2.5 grams per 100 grams, or 2.5 grams per 1 cup raw. (17)
Although all leafy greens contain some fiber, spinach deserves a special shout-out because of its high iron content, rich green color, 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 favorite casserole, soup, or stew, blend it into a smoothie, or whip up a healthy Spinach & Artichoke Dip for a fiber-rich snack.
Fiber Content: 2 grams per 100 grams, or 1 gram per 1 cup raw. (18)
The Bottom Line
Fiber is an essential nutrient for optimal health and including a wide variety of high-fiber foods in the diet can help to increase your overall fiber intake of both soluble and insoluble fiber. 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 fiber content to help ensure you are consuming your recommended dietary fiber intake on a daily basis.