13 High Fiber Foods to Keep Your Gut Healthy
Fiber is incredibly important in the diet, and most people don’t get enough of it. Good digestion depends on fiber, as does weight management, healthy gut flora and disease prevention of serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. According to the USDA, the fiber recommendation is about 40 grams for men and 25 grams for women; however, many health professionals feel that this is rather low. Regardless, most people aren’t even getting half of this recommended dose, and this can have major health consequences.
The good news is, many high fiber foods are delicious, easily attainable and easy to add into your daily diet. Check out these top fiber foods to get started.
What Foods Are High in Fiber?: Top 13
The health benefits of avocado could fill a book, so the fact that they are almost 7% fiber isn’t surprising. Avocados predominantly consist of healthy, monounsaturated fats, but the carbohydrates they do contain are almost all fiber. I cup contains 10 grams of fiber, along with potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin C and a host of other important nutrients (1).
As far as fruit goes, pears are one of the best sources of fiber, coming in at about 2.5%. Pears also contain certain flavonoids that can improve insulin sensitivity, but be sure to eat the skin! The skin of a pear contains up to 4 times as many cancer fighting phytonutrients (2).
It’s common knowledge that berries are packed full of free radical fighting antioxidants, but did you know that they are made up of almost 7% fiber? One cup of these tasty berries provide 8 grams of fiber, along with vitamin C, manganese and powerful antioxidants (3). However, research has shown that organic raspberries are significantly higher in antioxidants than non-organic raspberries, so opt for organic whenever possible.
While bananas are known most for their high potassium content, they also offer a healthy dose of fiber (just under 3%). A medium sized banana offers about 3 grams of fiber (4). This versatile, delicious fruit is also high in manganese, vitamin C and offers 25% of the RDA for vitamin B6. Use bananas in your morning smoothie to give them a creamy, naturally sweet taste.
5. Navy beans
Navy beans (which got their name for being a stable food in the US Navy), offers a whopping 19 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving, which is 76% of the RDA (5). Combined with whole grains, these creamy, white colored beans make an excellent source of vegetarian protein, and are high in folate, manganese and copper.
Lentils are right up there with navy beans, offering 63% of the RDA for fiber. Lentils also offer 230% of the RDA for the key nutrient, molybdenum, which is responsible for multiple enzymatic reactions in the human body. Lentils are also one of the best plant protein sources, and are quite inexpensive.
7. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Garbanzo beans can be used in curries, salads and even in order to make healthy baked goods (garbanzo flour). These tasty treats offer 50% of the RDA for fiber in a 1 cup serving (approximately 12 grams), while also containing a wide variety of key antioxidants and phytonutrients, such as vitamin E, K, C, beta carotene and more (6). Garbanzo beans have also been studied for their cardiovascular supporting effects and blood sugar lowering benefits (making them a good choice for diabetics).
While carrots (and really any vegetable or fruit source of fiber) offer less fiber per serving than grains and legumes, their per calorie ratio makes them an impressively good source of fiber. Carrots offer 3.5 grams per cup, and are also a great source of magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and beta carotene (7).
Remember that if you are gluten free you’ll need to specifically buy gluten free oats, but all oats offer almost 11% of the RDA for fiber in a 1 cup serving, at 16.5 grams (8). Interestingly, the type of fiber available in oats has been shown to particularly benefit healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and they also provide a plethora of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Believe it or not, popcorn is one of the highest fiber foods available, coming in at almost 15% of the RDA with 14.5 grams of fiber per 100 gram serving (about 1 cup). (9). However, for anyone with digestive problems, popcorn (and corn in general) can be quite hard to digest, so opt for other fiber sources if snacking on popcorn bothers your digestive tract. If not, make it at home using coconut oil or grass fed butter, as this is far healthier than microwave versions. Try adding some hot pepper, lemon juice, salt and pepper for a unique flavor combination.
11. Chia seeds
This superfood just doesn’t stop, as it offers 34% of the RDA for fiber in a one cup serving (10). Of course, we usually won’t eat 1 cup of chia seeds in a serving, but these little seeds pack a huge punch when it comes to fiber and other nutrients, such as magnesium, calcium and phosphorous. Chia seeds can be quite helpful in supporting healthy digestion, but be sure to soak your seeds overnight before consumption, as this makes them must most digestible.
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Not only are almonds packed full of heart healthy, monounsaturated fatty acids, but they offer 11 grams per 1 ounce serving (about 1 tablespoon) (11). Almonds make a great low-carb and satiating snack option, and they are also known to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol). If weight loss if your goal, stick to about a 1 ounce serving, as they are high in calories.
13. Dark chocolate
Save the best for last! Not only can dark chocolate guiltlessly be part of a healthy diet because of its high antioxidant content, but it also offers over 3 grams of fiber per 1 ounce serving (12). Dark chocolate also is impressively high in antioxidants, but it’s important to choose a brand that is 70% cocoa or higher, as the versions that contain less don’t offer nearly the same nutrient value (and are high in refined sugar).
Now that you know which superfoods to include to make sure your diet is high in fiber, you can be sure that you’re supporting healthy digestion, good gut bacteria, weight management and preventing common diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It is important to drink plenty of clean water along with increasing your fiber content, as this will help to flush toxins out of the body and further support digestion.