Most of us know that fiber is essential for a smooth-running digestive system. Most likely, your doctor has prescribed a higher fiber diet if you struggle with constipation. While fiber is an excellent natural remedy for being backed up, this diverse compound plays many other important roles in your health. Dietary fiber makes up the “parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb,” also called roughage or bulk, for obvious reasons. This undigested dietary fiber “passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine and colon and out of your body” via excrement. This is why fiber is essential for relieving constipation.
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble fiber, forms a gel-like material by dissolving in water and gastrointestinal juices and is digested primarily in the colon, and insoluble fiber — is the type of fiber that adds bulk to your stool — passes through your digestive tract mostly unchanged, which is how it “helps food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.” Both types of fiber are readily available in most plant-based foods. Yet, depending on the food product, you may be getting a higher content of one over the other. While each form of dietary fiber is essential for overall health, they do have specific health benefits.
Soluble fiber — most commonly found in “oats, peas, beans, citrus fruits, carrots, barley and psyllium” — is known to aid with weight management by lowering fat absorption, lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood glucose (sugar) levels, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (based upon the first three health benefits), and feeds healthy gut bacteria, aiding in the overall health of your gut microbiome. On the other hand, insoluble fiber — commonly found in “whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as cauliflower, green beans and potatoes” — is a champion when it comes to digestive tract health, “helping prevent gastrointestinal blockage and constipation or reduced bowel movements,” as well as reducing the risk of diverticular disease, — a common condition “that causes small bulges (diverticula) or sacs to form in the wall of the large intestine (colon) — and colorectal cancer. By consuming both types of dietary fiber — an easy task as both types are both prevalent in many of the same foods — you’ll be reaping all of these benefits, along with feeling satiated for longer periods of time and an overall lower risk of contracting disease including “obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and others.”
So, how much fiber do you need? Per the Food and Drug Administration, for those on a 2,000-calorie diet per day, you should consume around 25 grams of dietary fiber. Of course, this fluctuates depending on your specific caloric intake goals, gender, and age. To help you out, here are 15 fiber-rich foods to include on your next grocery list!
Pears are often forgotten about at the grocery store. Many of us reach for apples, bananas, and berries before even considering these treats. Yet, pears are one of the best fruit-based sources of fiber. One medium raw pear has 5.5 grams of fiber, that’s about a fifth of the recommended daily fiber intake. The nutritious benefits don’t stop there! Pears are also rich in vitamin A, C, and K — essential for eye health and rich in antioxidants — folate, — a B vitamin that makes DNA and genetic material — and important minerals including calcium magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. Pears come with various health benefits including treating diverticulitis, helping manage weight, lowering the risk of diabetes, aiding in digestion, and are a great food option for detoxing.
Due to their rough, gritty texture and mildly sweet flavoring, pears are excellent as an oatmeal topping, — such as this Pears with Brown Sugar, Bourbon, and Millet or these Berry Lavender Peached Pears with Granola — added to your favorite sweet salad, — such as this Pear Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons or this 30-Minute Quinoa Pear Salad — or used for enrich a baking recipe — such as this Pear and Apple Crisp or these Pear Protein Muffins — with a dose of fiber!
A plant-based diet without avocados is like a puzzle with a missing piece. Even if you aren’t a fan of raw avocado, this delicious ingredient is a staple in many vegan recipes from baking to sautéing to stews. Plus, avocados are incredibly fiber-rich. One avocado has 9.2 grams of fiber, that’s a bit under half of your daily recommended intake! Avocado also happens to be filled with a broad variety of essential nutrients including healthy fats — omega-3 (150 milligrams), omega-6 (2298 milligrams) fatty acids, monounsaturated (13.3 grams) , polyunsaturated (2.5 grams), and saturated (2.9 grams) — vitamins — A, C, E, K, niacin, folate, and choline — and minerals — calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium. Avocados have been attributed to lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, higher ability to absorb other plant-based nutrients, plus they are loaded with antioxidants that fight cancer-causing free radicals and can help manage a healthy weight.
Start your morning with this Grilled Bean and Avocado Burrito, get satiated mid-day with this super simple Nut Butter, Avocado, and Jelly Sandwich, fiber-up at dinner with this nutritious and filling Garlic and Onion Fried Rice, Fresh Sambal, and Mashed Avocado dish, and end the day with an avocado-based dessert, such as this Chocolate Avocado Mousse.
If you’re talking about fiber, you absolutely can’t leave out apples. This nutritious, affordable, and filling plant-based food is one of the best sources of a particular dietary fiber called pectin. Pectin is actually a natural plant-based fiber and “carbohydrate that’s extracted from fruits, vegetables and seeds.” While pears, guavas, quince, plums, oranges, and other citrus fruits are excellent sources of pectin, apples have some of the highest content with most of the pectin residing “in the skins, cores and seeds.” This special dietary fiber is known to lower cholesterol, help control diarrhea and improve digestive tract health, and aid in healthy weight management. Apples are also a great plant-based source of calcium (10.9 milligrams per apple), vitamin A (98.3 IU per apple), and phosphorous (20 milligrams per apple.)
Apples are high in natural sugar making them perfect for sweet treats, such as this Cinnamon Apple Dessert Taco or these Whole Wheat Apple Hand Pies. With that said, in order to get a dose of that pectin, consider using all of the apple in a savory dish, such as these savory breakfast recipes — Cheddar Apple Pie Oatmeal or this Apple Sweet Potato and Mushroom Hash — or these naturally sweetened meals — Apple Chickpea and Coconut Curry or this Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.
Carrots are known for the rich supply of beta-carotene — an antioxidant that is essential for eye health — yet did you know they are also a great source of dietary fiber? One cup of raw, grated carrot provides over 3 grams of fiber, as well as with a whopping 18,376 IU of vitamin A, 14.5 mcg of vitamin K, and over 20 mcg of B vitamin folate. Along with this index of nutrition, carrots are a great source of plant-based calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium. Carrots are also rich in other antioxidants including alpha-carotene, lutein, anthocyanins, and lycopene.
Due to their naturally sweet taste and hearty texture, carrots are great for antioxidant filled, vitamin-rich, and fiber-full smoothies such this Blood Orange, Carrot, and Ginger Smoothie, this Carrot Orange Pineapple Detox Smoothie, this Carrot Cake Smoothie Bowl, or this Healing Turmeric Golden Juice.
Seeds may be small and simple, but most of them pack a powerful punch of fiber. When it comes to choosing your fiber-rich seed, consider flaxseeds. These tiny brown seeds have been used for thousands of years as a dietary staple and are now part of that exclusive food group “superfoods.” This is for good reason too. One tablespoon of whole flaxseed offers a loaded 2.8 grams of fiber, a perfect fiber-rich addition to your morning oatmeal or salad at lunch. To put this in perspective, one cup of whole flaxseed has a whopping 45 grams! Yet, it’s not just about fiber. Flaxseeds are loaded with other nutrients including high-quality protein, healthy fat, vitamins (B1, B6, and folate), and minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium). These seeds are linked to reduce cancer risk, improved cholesterol, lower blood pressure, controlled blood sugar, and help boost satiation.
When it comes to the kitchen, flaxseeds are a wonderful vegan ingredient providing a plant-based egg and binder alternative such as in this Lentil Loaf with Tomato Glaze, Chipotle Maple Sweet Potato Burgers, Quinoa Crepes, or this nutritionally-rich Miracle Bread.
If you’re focusing on a low-sugar diet, high-fiber diet, berries are the perfect sweet addition. Most berries, especially raspberries and blackberries, are lower in sugar than other fruits, yet are still a great source of fiber. One cup of raw raspberries has around 8 grams of dietary fiber, that’s about a fourth of your daily recommended intake! Along with their low sugar, high fiber content, raspberries also provide powerful anti-aging and cancer-fighting antioxidants and have been linked to a boost in cognitive abilities and memory.
Even though raspberries are low in sugar content if your goal is to reduce sugar intake, try incorporating this wonderful and delicious berry into simpler dishes that utilize savory ingredients such as these Dragon Fruit Summer Rolls, these Raspberry Black Bean Brownies, or these Raspberry Glazed Tempeh.
Starting off your day with a dose of fiber is a great way to awaken your digestive tract! What’s the best morning meal? A bowl of oatmeal. Oats are incredibly nutritious and are one of the best sources of dietary fiber. One cup of oats offers a whopping 16 grams of fiber, that’s over half of the recommended daily intake. Oats are also a great source of plant-based folate, healthy fat, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, and manganese. By integrating this nutritious ingredient into your daily regimen, you’ll also be increasing your intake of avenanthramides, powerful antioxidants, and beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber, both of which are linked to lower cholesterol (especially lower levels of LDL) and healthier blood sugar levels.
Plus, they are versatile! Create a savory bowl, such as this Pumpkin Early Grey Oatmeal, this Pumpkin and Kale Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Sausage, or these Savory Mushroom Oats, a sweet treat, such as this Beetroot Cake Porridge, or focus on a specific bodily need to get you ready for the day, such as this Protein-Packed Breakfast Quinoa Bowl or this Chocolate Oatmeal and Nut Energy Bars.
Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are a great plate-filler for plant-based dieters, those who are gluten sensitive, or anyone looking to reduce sugary carbohydrate intake. They also happen to be rich in fiber (10 grams per cup) and other nutrients including protein (11 grams per cup), vitamins — A, C, B6, folate, and choline — and minerals — calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, selenium, and manganese. Due to this complex spectrum of nutrition, chickpeas are great for controlling hunger cravings and aid in digestive health, blood sugar control, and may protect against certain diseases including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Chickpeas are also one of those rare cheap, yet healthy ingredients. Use them to make hummus — such as this Lime Jalapeno Hummus — to bulk up a salad — such as this Greek Pasta Salad with Oil-Free Dressing — to embolden a stew — such as this Moroccan Chickpea Stew — or as a filling and delicious stuffed ingredients — such as this Coconut Greens and Chickpea Loaded Sweet Potato or these Purple Cabbage Chickpea Boats.
Most members of the legume family offer up a dose of dietary fiber, yet they are also generally affordable and nutrient-dense. One cup of cooked kidney beans has 16.5 grams of dietary fiber, meeting over half of your recommended daily intake. Beans are also a great plant-based source of protein and antioxidants, which are linked to a reduced rate of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as preventing fatty liver disease.
The last legume on this list — yet definitely not the last option — are lentils. Known for their high content of protein, lentils are regularly consumed by vegetarians and vegans as a meat alternative. Yet, lentils are also incredibly rich in fiber. One cup of cooked lentils has 15 grams of fiber, which is a little over half of your daily recommended intake of dietary fiber. They are also rich in healthy fats (omega-3 and omega-6), vitamins (A, C, K, niacin, folate, and choline), as well as minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, selenium, and manganese). Similar to chickpeas and kidney beans, lentils have been linked to lower cholesterol, better digestive and heart health, balanced blood sugar, and healthy weight management. Yet, lentils are also known for providing a boost in non-crash energy!
These hearty and malleable legumes are perfect for your favorite meatless recipe such as these Lentil and Brown Rice Patties, this Lentil Loaf with Smoked Paprika Glaze, this Foolproof Mega Lentil Burger, or these Lentil and Beet Meatballs with Pasta.
These odd-looking veggies are one of the most overlooked sources of fiber available in your local grocery store. One whole artichoke has around 7 grams of dietary fiber, that’s about a third of your recommended daily intake. Yet, artichokes are also rich in eye-health vitamin A, immune-boosting vitamin C, plant-based calcium, and muscle-relaxing magnesium, to name just a few! Artichokes are also linked to lower LDL cholesterol and high HDL cholesterol, improved blood pressure, healthy liver, better digestive health, — in particular, helping with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — and may have cancer-fighting effects.
Don’t know how to integrate artichokes into your diet? Try roasting — such as this Lemon-Roasted Artichoke With Garlic and Fennel — frying — such as this Beer-Battered Artichoke Hearts — baking — such as this Artichoke and Pesto Walnut Pie — or sautéing — such as this Homemade Gnocchi with Sautéed Artichokes.
Prunes are one of the oldest natural remedies for constipation. This is due to the high fiber content. One cup of prunes has over 12 grams of fiber, half of your recommended daily intake. Plus, they are also high in healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are also purported to help with constipation. Plus, for those plant-based eaters, prunes are a great source of calcium, protein, potassium, and starch. Along with helping to get your digestive tract moving, prunes are also linked to stronger bones and muscles, reduced appetite, lower cholesterol, and a lower risk of colon cancer. With that said, it’s best to consume prunes as a treat or snack instead of on a regular basis due to their high sugar content (66 grams for one cup!)
Try using prunes in other nutrient-dense recipes — such as this Baked Tofu with Ginger Miso California Prune Sauce — or in recipes that can be stretched over an entire week — such as this Almond and Prune Finger Cake, this Raw Cinnamon Apple Bread, or these Fudgy Pear Walnut Brownies.
For those looking to venture outside the norm with their produce, try this finger-shaped, viscous juice filled, green-hued veggie! While it’s a bit lower on the dietary fiber spectrum than other veggies listed here, it still offers about 4 grams for one cup of sliced pieces. On top of that, okra is a great source of vitamin A, C, and K, as well as folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. Due to its high folate content, okra is excellent for pregnancy and breastfeeding mothers, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and is a great natural remedy for gastrointestinal disruption.
Don’t be scared to get creative with your okra! It’s a diverse veggie that is complementary to many other flavors. Try a few of these vegetable and flavor-rich recipes: Indian Stuffed Okra, Spicy Greek Baked Okra, or these Okra and Corn Stuffed Squash Blossoms.
Don’t leave the grocery store without purchasing nuts! Not only are nuts rich in healthy fats, but most varieties also provide a dose of dietary fiber. One cup of whole, dry-roasted almonds has 16 grams of dietary fiber, that’s over half of your recommended daily intake. That same one cup also offers over 17,000 milligrams of Omega-6 fatty acids, 46 grams of monounsaturated fat, 17 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 5 grams of saturated fat. Almonds are a great nut choice due to their rich nutrient and antioxidant content, as well as their ability to help control blood sugar and blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and their aid in reducing hunger cravings.
Integrating almonds into your diet is also super easy! They can be consumed raw, as a mid-day snack to quell hunger cravings, used to make dairy-free almond milk, or added to your favorite sweet treat recipes such as these Salted Caramel Almond Blondies, these Coconut Almond Snowballs, or this Mesquite Almond Superfood Slice.
Last, but not least, is brown rice! Healthy grains oftentimes are also great sources of dietary fiber. For instance, one cup of medium-grain brown rice has around 3.5 grams of fiber. Brown rice is also a good plant-based source of magnesium, calcium, and omega-6 fatty acids. Plus, this grain has a spectrum of health benefits including lowering “cholesterol, moves waste through the digestive tract, promotes fullness, and may help prevent the formation of blood clots.” Brown rice is also low on the glycemic index, which means it will be absorbed slower and won’t make blood sugar spike.
Brown rice is an essential ingredient in most plant-based diets. Its hearty design makes it a perfect plate-filler. Try out a few of these rice-based recipes: Brown Rice Jambalaya, Basic Brown Rice, or this Brown Rice Casserole with Curry Butternut Squash.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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