Did you know more than 97 percent of American are deficient in fiber?
According to a study, the average person eats around 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day, when the recommended amount is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men (1).
Yes, fiber consumption is currently at an all-time low.
Why eat more fiber?
Among many benefits, fiber is best known to aid one's digestive health from relieving and preventing constipation (4).
Overall people with a diet rich in fiber tend to maintain a healthier life and live longer (7).
What is fiber?
Fiber is found in plant-based foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans, and it's a type of carbohydrates (8).
But unlike other macronutrients (fats proteins and carbohydrates) that get broken down and absorbed and provide the vast majority of calories, fiber is indigestible.
It doesn't digested or absorbs by the body and doesn't provide a single calorie.
Yet, it's an extremely important element in a healthy diet.
Fiber is further classified as either soluble or insoluble, depending on whether they dissolve in liquids.
Most plant-based foods contain a mixture of the two.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, but insoluble fiber does not.
When soluble fiber is combined with water, it becomes gel-like in the stomach. This expansion helps slows down digestion and lower cholesterol and glucose levels.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water and remains unchanged during digestion.
It passes through our digestive system in close to its original form. It helps speed digestion, which promotes regularity and helps prevent constipation.
Regardless of the differences between the fiber types, neither type is ever absorbed into the body, which provides them with the absolute advantage in weight management and other aspects of health.
To take advantage of the fiber benefits, it's essential to increase our fiber intake to the daily recommended amount of 25 or 38 grams depending on your gender (9).
Fortunately, meeting the recommended daily fiber intake is relatively simple.
There are tons of familiar delicious foods that are super high in fiber! So incorporating fiber into the diet isn't all that hard like you imagine.
Here are 21 of the best high-fiber foods that are both delicious and super satisfying.
1. Split Peas
Fiber: 16 grams per cup, cooked (10).
Split peas are a good source of soluble fiber.
You get about 16.3 grams of fiber per cup, which fulfills 65% worth of your daily recommended value of fiber from just one small cup of cooked split peas.
They are highly beneficial for your health.
In addition to being high in fiber, they also contain 16 grams of protein as well as various other vitamins and minerals. As a bonus, they're also are low in fats.
They taste terrific and can be combined with salads or made into soup.
Fiber: 16 grams per cup, cooked (11). 63% of your daily recommended value.
Lentils are incredibly nutritious.
They contain a good mixture of slow-digesting protein and complex carbohydrates.
They are very high in fiber. One cup of cooked lentils carry a whopping 16 grams of dietary fiber, and most of it is the soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is the type that can lower cholesterol level.
The same amount of cooked lentils also contains 18 grams of high-quality proteins, making them wonderfully filling and weight loss friendly.
Lentils are more versatile than many other legumes—they cook quickly—and no pre-soaking required. You can add cooked lentils to salads or add them to soup. I'll share some "lentil recipes" in the near future.
3. Black Beans
Fiber: 15 grams per cup, cooked (12). 60% of your daily recommended value.
Black beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber.
One cup of cooked black beans contains 15 grams of fiber. Black beans are also a good source of protein providing 15 grams per cup.
They are also rich in various other vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, and folate.
One study ranked black beans as one of the top ten richest antioxidant foods you can eat.
There are also other benefits.
Soluble fiber in black beans is known to help stabilize blood sugar and lower cholesterol.
Black beans are super easy to incorporate into your diet.
They can be added to salads, burrito, and chili. My favorite black bean recipe is classic beans and rice.
Beans and rice together make a complete protein - a great thing for vegetarians and vegans.
Also packed with complex carbs and protein, it's perfect as a post-workout meal.
Benefits of Insoluble Fiber
- Lowering LDL cholesterol levels: According to Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN, Consuming 5 to 10 g of soluble fiber per day reduces LDL cholesterol levels by approximately 5%. The National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel recommends consuming 10 to 25 g of soluble fiber per day and following a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol to help lower blood cholesterol.
- Lowering blood sugar: Because soluble fiber doesn't get absorbed by your digestive system, it doesn't cause a blood sugar spike that can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you already have diabetes, soluble fiber can help you manage it.
- Heart protection: Inside your digestive system, soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol particles and takes them out of the body, helping to reduce overall cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal may offer the most heart protection.
- Aiding with Weight loss: Soluble fiber can also help you manage your healthy weight by keeping you full without adding calories to your diet.
- Helping bowel movements: Soluble fiber soaks up water as it passes through your system, which helps bulk up your stool and guard against constipation and diarrhea.
Two Major Soluble Fiber Benefits
Relieves Constipation: Brown University reports that constipation is the most common gastrointestinal complaint in the U.S., and higher fiber consumption can help relieve it. Insoluble fiber can help relieve by binding water as it passes through the digestive tract.
Rebecca Howard, registered member of the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management explains how this leads to softer and heavier stool, not only reducing the risk of constipation but also making bowel movements easier.
Reduces risk of colon cancer: According to University of Colorado, insoluble fiber removes toxic waste through colon in less time and reduces the exposure of toxic substances (by-product of digestion).
They also add that this helps control and balance the pH (acidity) in the intestines, thus prevent microbes from producing cancerous substances.
Total daily recommended fiber Intake Guidelines
According to Oregon State University, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine outlined an Adequate Intake recommendation for total daily fiber intake.
Since the recommended intake varies between gender and ages, please refer to the table below.
|Life Stage||Age||Males (g/day)||Females (g/day)|
|Adults||51 years and older||30||21|
|* Not determined|
Here's a list of the 21 best high fiber foods that are Paleo friendly and gluten-free. This foods list includes both insoluble and soluble fiber sources.
Top Insoluble Fiber Foods
|2.2g / 1 tbsp|
|Okra||3.1g per 1/2 cup|
|3.1 g per 1/2 cup|
|Peas||3 g per 1/2 cup|
|Banana||2.1 g per medium size banana (see fiber in banana)|
Top Soluble Fiber Foods
|Purple passion fruit||6.5g of fiber per 1/2 cup|
|Pear||3g per 1 large|
|Avocado||2.1g per 1/2 cup|
|Brussels sprouts||2g per 1/2 cup|
|Plums||2g per 5 small|
|Sweet potato||1.8g per 1/2 cup|
|Asparagus||1.7g per 1/2 cup|
|Turnip||1.7g per 1/2 cup|
|Dried figs||1.9g per 1/4 cup|
|Orange||1.8g in one medium size|
|Flaxseed||1.1g per 1 tbsp|
|Winter squash||cooked 2g per 1 cup|
|Collard greens||2,39g per 1 cup frozen|
|String beans||1.54g per 1 cup raw|
|Dried dates||1.69g per 1 cup|
|Cauliflower||2g per 1 cup raw|
How to Add More Fiber to Your Diet
Adding fiber to your diet is easier than you think. Here are a few suggestions you can incorporate today.
- East at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily (see a list of superfoods to get more bang for your nutrition buck)
- Substitute whole grains for refined grains (Not applicable to Paleo diet. If you are gluten-free, avoid bread, pasta and other wheat products)
- Eat oat meal, whole-grain cereal, or bran cereal for breakfast (not applicable to Paleo)
- Eat beans, split peas, or lentils at least once a week (not applicable to Paleo)
- Substitute nuts or popcorn for less healthful snacks like potato chips or candy
There you have it! You just learned what fiber is and why it is important to consume enough of it. Also you can get your daily recommended fiber without eating beans or other gluten products.
What did you think? Were you surprised as I was to learn about the two different types of fiber? Leave a comment below to let us know.