High-fiber foods for a healthful diet
According to the most up-to-date Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the adequate intake (AI) of fiber for adult men is 33.6 grams (g) per day, and 28 g for adult women.
But most people in America do not meet this goal. The average fiber intake in the United States is 17 g, and only 5 percent of people meet the adequate daily intake.
People need to get both soluble and insoluble fiber from their diet. Eating a varied high-fiber diet means getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
In this article, we provide a list of 38 healthful, high-fiber foods — explaining how much fiber each one has — to help people boost their daily fiber intake.
Navy beans contain 10.5 g of fiber per 100 g and are also high in protein.
Legumes are fiber-rich plant-based foods that include beans, lentils, and peas.
Beans are a good source of fermentable fibers. This fiber moves into the large intestine and helps to feed the diverse colony of healthy bacteria in the gut.
The following are some of the best legumes for fiber:
1. Navy beans
Navy beans are one of the richest sources of fiber. They are also high in protein. Add navy beans to salads, curries, or stews for an extra fiber and protein boost.
Fiber content: Navy beans contain 10.5 g per 100 g (31.3 percent of AI).
2. Pinto Beans
Pinto beans are a popular U.S. staple. People can eat pinto beans whole, mashed or as refried beans. Along with their high-fiber content, pinto beans are a great source of calcium and iron.
Fiber content: Pinto beans contain 9 g of fiber per 100 g (26.8 percent of AI).
3. Black beans
Black beans contain good amounts of iron and magnesium. They are also a great source of plant-based protein.
If people who follow a vegan diet combine black beans with rice, they will be getting all nine essential amino acids.
Fiber content: Black beans contain 8.7 g of fiber per 100 g (25.9 percent of AI).
4. Split peas
Split peas are a great source of iron and magnesium. They go well in casseroles, curries, and dahl.
Fiber content: Split peas contain 8.3 g of fiber per 100 g (24.7 percent of AI).
There are many types of lentils, including red lentils and French lentils. They make a great addition to couscous, quinoa dishes, or dahl.
Fiber content: Lentils contain 7.9 g of fiber per 100 g (23.5 percent of AI).
6. Mung beans
When dried and ground, people can use mung bean flour to make pancakes.
Fiber content: Mung beans contain 7.6 g of fiber per 100 g (22.6 percent of AI).
7. Adzuki beans
Adzuki beans are used in Japanese cuisine to make red bean paste, which is a traditional sweet. People can also boil these fragrant, nutty beans and eat them plain.
Fiber content: Adzuki beans contain 7.3 g of fiber per 100 g (21.7 percent of AI).
8. Lima Beans
Not only are lima beans a great source of fiber, but they are also high in plant protein.
Fiber content: Lima beans contain 7 g of fiber per 100 g (20.8 percent of AI).
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a popular source of plant-based protein and fiber. They are also full of iron, vitamin B-6, and magnesium.
Use this legume as a base for hummus and falafel.
Fiber content: Chickpeas contain 6.4 g of fiber per 100 g (19 percent of AI).
10. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are a rich source of iron. Kidney beans are a great addition to chili, casseroles, and salads.
Fiber content: Kidney beans contain 6.4 g of fiber per 100 g (19 percent of AI).
Soybeans are used to make a variety of products, such as tofu, tempeh, and miso. People often use soybean products as dietary replacements for meat and dairy.
Fresh soybeans can also be eaten raw or added to salads as edamame.
Fiber content: Soybeans contain 6 g of fiber per 100 g (17.9 percent of AI).
12. Baked beans
Baked beans are rich in fiber and protein. They are available from most grocery stores. Try to buy brands with reduced sugar and salt to get more health benefits.
Fiber content: Plain baked beans from a can contain 4.1 g of fiber per 100 g (12.2 percent of AI).
13. Green peas
Green peas are available canned or fresh. Green peas are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
Fiber content: Green peas contain 4.1–5.5 g of fiber per 100 g (12–16 percent of AI).
Among the many health benefits of vegetables, they are a great source of dietary fiber. Vegetables with a high-fiber content include:
Artichokes are high in fiber as well as vitamins C and K.
Artichokes are packed with vitamins C and K, plus calcium, and folate.
Grill, bake, or steam whole artichokes and use in dishes or as a side.
People often prepare just the artichoke heart above the outside leaves.
Fiber content: One medium artichoke contains 6.9 g of fiber (20.5 percent of AI).
As a staple vegetable, potatoes are a good source of B vitamins plus vitamin C and magnesium.
Fiber content: One large potato, baked in its skin, contains 6.3 g of fiber (18.8 percent of AI).
16. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are one of the starchy vegetables. They are high in vitamin A.
Fiber content: One large sweet potato, baked in its skin, contains 5.9 g of fiber (17.6 percent of AI).
Parsnips are a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as B vitamins, calcium, and zinc.
Fiber content: One boiled parsnip contains 5.8 g of fiber (17.3 percent of AI).
18. Winter squash
Winter squash vegetables are a bountiful source of vitamins A and C.
Fiber content: One cup of winter squash contains 5.7 g of fiber (17 percent of AI).
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is high in vitamins C and A. Cruciferous vegetables also have lots of antioxidant polyphenols.
Fiber content: One cup of cooked broccoli florets contains 5.1 g of fiber (15.2 percent of AI).
Pumpkin is a popular vegetable and source of vitamins A and K and calcium. People use it in sweet and savory dishes.
Fiber content: A standard portion of canned pumpkin contains 3.6 g of fiber (10.7 percent of AI).
People can boost their daily fiber intake by including healthful fruits as a snack between meals. Some fruits contain more fiber than others.
Avocado is full of healthful monounsaturated fats that are beneficial to heart health. They are popular in salads and for making dips.
Fiber content: One peeled avocado contains 9.2 g of fiber (27.4 percent of AI).
Pears are full of fiber, as well as vitamins C and A, folate and calcium. Keep a few pears in the fruit bowl, or serve them with dessert.
Fiber content: One medium pear contains 5.5 g of fiber (16.4 percent of AI).
Apples are a good source of vitamins C and A and folate. Make sure to eat the skin as well as the apple flesh, as the skin contains much of the fruit's fiber.
Fiber content: One large apple contains 5.4 g of fiber (16.1 percent of AI).
Raspberries are a great source of antioxidants. These ruby-red berries also contain vitamins C and K.
Fiber content: Half a cup of raspberries contains 4 g of fiber (11.9 percent of AI).
Similarly to raspberries, blackberries are full of healthful antioxidants and are a great source of vitamins C and K.
Fiber content: Half a cup of blackberries contains 3.8 g of fiber (11.3 percent of AI).
Prunes, or dried plums, can help promote digestive health. Although high in fiber, prunes can also be high in sugar, so eat these in moderation.
Fiber content: Five prunes contain 3.4 g of fiber (10.1 percent of AI).
Oranges are surprisingly a good source of fiber. Oranges are full of vitamin C, which is essential for health.
Fiber content: One orange contains 3.4 g of fiber (10.1 percent of AI).
Bananas are a great source of nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. They can be included in baking or eaten on their own as a snack.
Fiber content: One medium banana contains 3.1 g of fiber (9.2 percent of AI).
Not only is this tropical fruit a source of fiber, but it also has a very high amount of vitamin C and contains vitamin A.
Try guava in smoothies or juices. The rinds are edible, which means they can make a great fruit snack when on the go.
Fiber content: One guava fruit contains 3 g of fiber (8.9 percent of AI).
High-fiber nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds provide numerous health benefits. They contain healthful fats, high concentrations of protein, and they often have essential omega-3 fatty acids.
High-fiber nuts and seeds include:
People can use buckwheat to make soba noodles.
Despite its name, buckwheat is a seed and not a grain.
Buckwheat groats are grain-like seeds from a plant that is more closely related to rhubarb than wheat. It is rich in magnesium and zinc. Buckwheat does not contain gluten.
People traditionally use buckwheat in Japan for making soba noodles. It has also gained popularity in other countries.
People can add the groats to breakfast cereal or smoothies.
Buckwheat flour is an excellent gluten-free alternative to plain flour for baking and cooking.
Fiber content: Half a cup of buckwheat groats contains 8.4 g of fiber (25 percent of AI).
31. Chia seeds
People originally cultivated chia seeds in Central America. Not only are these edible seeds high in fiber, but they also contain high levels of omega-3s, protein, antioxidants, calcium, and iron.
People may get more health benefits from ground chia seeds. Buy them ground up or blitz the seeds into a fine powder, using a food processor or mortar and pestle.
Fiber content: Each tablespoon of chia seeds contains 4.1g of fiber (12.2 percent of AI).
Quinoa is another pseudocereal and is also an edible seed.
This seed is high in antioxidants, magnesium, folate, and copper, as well as vitamins B-1, B-2, and B-6.
Quinoa is useful for people who are sensitive to gluten. Quinoa flour is excellent for baking, and people often include the flakes in breakfast cereals.
Fiber content: Half a cup of quinoa contains 2.6 g of fiber (7.7 percent of AI).
33. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a brilliant source of healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as magnesium, and zinc.
Fiber content: A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains 1.9 g of fiber (5.7 percent of AI).
Almonds are high in vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant, as well as calcium and healthful, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Fiber content: Ten almonds contain 1.5 g of fiber (4.5 percent of AI).
Popcorn is a healthful, whole food snack. It is a source of zinc, folate, and vitamin A. Avoid popcorn brands high in sugar and salt.
Fiber content: One cup of popcorn contains 1.2 g of fiber (3.6 percent of AI).
Whole grains help to keep the heart healthy and make people feel fuller after meals. High-fiber whole grains include:
People make freekeh from roasted green wheat. They use it as a side to meat or mixed into salads to add substance and a nutty flavor.
Fiber content: Freekeh contains 13.3 g of fiber per 100 g (39.6 percent of AI).
37. Bulgur wheat
Bulgur wheat is the whole-wheat grain popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. Processing bulgur wheat involves cracking the wheat germ open and parboiling it.
Bulgur wheat is a traditional ingredient in tabbouleh and pilafs. Use it as an alternative to rice in warm salads. Bear in mind that it is not gluten-free.
Fiber content: Bulgur wheat contains 4.5 g of fiber per 100 g (13.4 percent of AI).
38. Pearled barley
Pearled barley is great as a side to meats, or in salads or stews.
Fiber content: Pearled barley contains 3.8 g of fiber per 100 g (11.3 percent of AI).
Tips to increase fiber in the diet
The following tips can help people increase the amount of fiber they get in their diet each day:
- avoid peeling vegetables, as the skins contain plenty of fiber, including cellulose
- swap white bread for wholemeal bread
- swap white rice for brown rice
- try using steel-cut or rolled oats instead of instant oats
- aim for at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit each day
- choose starchy vegetables
- use psyllium husk or other fiber supplements when unable to meet the adequate intake through diet
Fiber is an essential part of a healthful diet, though most people in the U.S. do not meet the recommended daily fiber intake.
A high-fiber diet helps to prevent constipation, maintain heart health, and feed the good bacteria in the gut. It can also help with weight loss.
People can increase the amount of fiber they get from their diet by choosing high-fiber foods and following certain dietary tips, such as not peeling off edible skins on fruit and vegetables.
Foods that are naturally rich in fiber have many other health benefits, too. Eating a wide variety of whole foods will help people meet their daily needs for fiber and other key nutrients.