Eating a healthy diet rich in high fiber whole foods can help relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids, or piles. By contrast, processed foods, red meat, and alcohol can increase the risk of piles.

Hemorrhoids, or piles, refer to inflamed, swollen veins surrounding the anus or in the lower rectum, where the waste collects before it passes as a stool.

There are two types of hemorrhoids: external hemorrhoids that form under the skin near the anus and internal hemorrhoids that form in the anus and lower rectal lining.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), 1 in 20 people living in the United States experience hemorrhoids. Around 50% of adults over the age of 50 will deal with hemorrhoids at some point.

What a person eats can help ease the symptoms of hemorrhoids.

This article lists the best high fiber foods to help with hemorrhoids and which foods to avoid. It provides additional tips for the treatment and prevention of hemorrhoids.

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Eating more high fiber, low fat, whole foods can often reduce or prevent the symptoms of hemorrhoids.

That is because fiber seems to:

  • increase stool weight, reducing the time feces spends in the colon (colon transit time)
  • increase water retention in the colon, resulting in softer stools that pass more easily
  • decrease the pH levels in the colon, which also reduces colon transit time, or the time it takes for food to pass through the colon

According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people should aim to get 14 grams (g) of fiber for every 1,000 calories they consume.

Lots of foods contain fiber, but some of the best foods to eat to help with piles include:

1. Wheat bran and shredded wheat

Just 1/3–1/4 of a cup of high fiber, ready-to-eat bran cereal between 9.1-14.3 g of fiber.

1–1/4 cups of shredded, ready-to-eat wheat cereal contains between 5–9 g of fiber.

Wheat bran and shredded wheat contain insoluble fiber, giving stool bulk and making it easier to pass.

2. Prunes

Prunes are dried plum. Stewed or dried prunes are rich in fiber. Just a half cup of stewed prunes contains around 3.8 g of fiber.

Dried prunes may also help keep the stomach feeling full longer, which means a person will not need to eat so often. This can help reduce both constipation and obesity, which may be a risk factor for hemorrhoids, according to an older 2009 article.

Compounds in prunes called phenols may also act as an antibacterial agent in the gastrointestinal system, reducing the risk of infection.

3. Apples

According to a 2020 article, apples are a great source of dietary fiber.

A medium apple with its skin contains around 4.4 g of fiber, making it among the most fiber-rich fruits.

The insoluble fibers found in an apple’s skin do not break down during digestion and help to bulk-up stool, which causes a laxative effect.

4. Pears

Pears are incredibly high in fiber and other compounds that may benefit people with hemorrhoids. A pear with its skin may contain around 6 g of fiber. Pears also contain fructose, which can act as a natural laxative.

5. Barley

Barley is rich in a fiber called β-glucan, which breaks down and forms a viscous gel in the colon and softens the stool. Research also shows that consuming barley may help maintain good colon health.

6. Corn

One cup of cooked sweet corn contains around 4.2 g of fiber. People have been using corn as a cure for hemorrhoids since ancient times.

That is probably because aside from fiber, corn also contains strong antioxidants that prevent cellular damage from free radicals and other compounds that may help reduce pain.

One cup of cooked oatmeal contains around 4 g of fiber. And the fiber in oats may be capable of improving gut health. It also helps soften stool, making it easier to pass and reducing the risk of straining.

8. Lentils

Pulses, such as lentils, chickpeas, lima beans, and split peas, are among the best sources of fiber out there. One cup of cooked lentils contains around 15.6 g of fiber.

And some research shows that consuming green lentils leads to significant increases in the weight of the stool and reduces the time it spends in the colon.

9. Whole wheat bread, pasta, and cereals

Unprocessed or lightly processed whole wheat products are rich in insoluble fiber, which increases fecal weight and colon transit time.

For an added fiber punch, pick whole wheat products with nuts and seeds.

10. Berries

Berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, have a high skin-to-flesh ratio, meaning they contain a lot of fiber per serving. A 100 g serving of raspberries contains around 6.5 g of fiber.

Berries also contain a lot of water, which helps soften stools and keep the digestive system moving smoothly. They also contain fructose, which has a natural laxative effect.

11. Artichokes

Some traditional medicine systems use artichokes and varieties of thistle (which are relatives of the artichoke) to treat hemorrhoids. A likely reason for this is their high fiber content. One cooked, medium-sized artichoke contains around 10.3 g of fiber.

12. Sweet potatoes and potatoes

According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, one medium-sized baked sweet potato with its skin on contains 3.8 g of fiber. One medium-sized potato also baked with its skin on contains around 3.6 grams of fiber.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Some research has also found that fiber from sweet potatoes also seems to have a stronger laxative effect than other vegetables.

13. Broccoli

One cup of boiled broccoli contains around 5.1 g of fiber.

Broccoli also contains a compound called sulforaphane, which may help improve digestion and protect the gut.

In a 2017 study eating 20 g of raw broccoli sprouts daily for 4 weeks eased symptoms of constipation and led to quicker bowel movements, reducing the risk of straining.

14. Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain fiber and water, which can both ease constipation and make it easier to pass stool.

Tomatoes also contain naringenin, a natural antioxidant that scientists have shown to have a laxative effect on some forms of constipation.

15. Citrus fruits

The inner skin that covers the flesh of citrus fruits, such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, contains a lot of fiber.

Like tomatoes, citrus fruits also contain naringenin, a compound that has a laxative effect. They also contain lots of water, which helps ease constipation and soften stools.

16. Kiwis

According to FoodData Central, a 100 g serving of kiwifruit has around 3 g of fiber and plenty of water.

Research also shows that kiwifruit consumption may act as a laxative, increase how often and easily stool passes, and increase stool bulk, which reduces colon transit time.

Kiwifruits also contain the enzyme zyactinase, which may also help ease constipation by improving digestion.

17. Beans

Like peas and other pulses, dried beans are incredibly high in fiber. According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, just half a cup of cooked navy beans contains 9.6 g of fiber, while half a cup of kidney beans contains around 5.7 g of fiber.

Processed foods and those rich in fats, sugar, or refined carbohydrates can also increase the risk of conditions that cause hemorrhoids, especially constipation.

To help reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids or the risk of developing them, a person can try avoiding:

  • fried and salty foods
  • chips and other packaged snacks
  • full-fat dairy products
  • prepared or heavily processed foods
  • red meat
  • candies and chocolates
  • soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and coffees with added milk, sugar, or cream
  • alcohol
  • excessive caffeine intake

Several at-home remedies and lifestyle habits may help treat hemorrhoids or reduce the risk of developing them, such as:

  • using over-the-counter (OTC) hemorrhoid creams or suppositories (medications inserted into the rectum) for around 1 week before talking to a healthcare professional
  • using OTC laxatives or stool softeners
  • avoiding lifting heavy objects when possible and lifting with the knees
  • trying to avoid straining during bowel movements, holding in bowel movements, or sitting on the toilet too long
  • staying hydrated by drinking water, fruit juices, clear soups, or other liquids that may help fiber from foods work better
  • using OTC pain medications
  • taking a sitz bath, sitting in a bath of warm water, several times daily
  • maintaining a body weight within the recommended healthful range
  • avoiding having anal intercourse
  • getting enough exercise

Eating foods high in fiber, such as pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas), whole fruits and vegetables, with a high skin-to-flesh ratio and water content, and whole grains, can help ease symptoms of hemorrhoids and prevent them.

A person should gradually increase dietary fiber intake to reduce the risk of side effects, such as gas and bloating.

People should talk with a doctor about severe or very large hemorrhoids or those that do not improve with at-home care and dietary changes after a week or two.