Why Do I Need to Eat High-Fiber Foods?
Did you know that a diet rich in high-fiber foods is important for more than just staying “regular?”
It’s true, most people associate high-fiber foods with digestion. But upping your daily fiber intake can help prevent a variety of health issues. In fact, in a recent meta-analysis by medical journal The Lancet, researchers found that eating a high-fiber diet led to a lower risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes.
So, what are some high-fiber foods? Worry not, here’s a list of common fiber-rich foods packed with that life-saving dietary fiber:
Finding natural high-fiber foods to incorporate into your diet doesn't have to be a struggle. Fiber-rich fruits are an excellent choice for balancing great taste with getting your daily dose of "vitamin F." Toss some antioxidant-rich berries into a smoothie, or simply grab an apple for breakfast on-the-go. Here are a few tasty, high-fiber fruits to get your day started right:
- Bananas, apples, oranges, and pears.
- Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and more.
- Less common fruits such as passion fruit, guava, and mango.
Did you know? Avocado is not only classified as a fruit, but this fiber-rich food is filled with 10 grams of dietary fiber! Go green!
Vegetables, Vegetables, Vegetables
Eat your vegetables. This groan-inducing parental advice has stuck around for a reason. Vegetables are a welcome addition to any diet based purely on their vitamins and minerals. Some of the benefits of consuming vegetables may include reducing chronic inflammation, lowering the risk of eye diseases, preventing some types of cancers, and alleviating digestive problems. Many vegetables also contain a hefty dose of fiber. Here are a few high-fiber vegetables to keep you strong and healthy:
- Artichockes, broccoli, and green peas.
- Spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and other greens.
- Several varieties of potatoes, such as sweet, red, and russet.
Beans and Legumes
Okay, so these fiber-rich foods aren’t fruits. But there is something magical about these high-fiber helpers. Legumes have been shown to contain a variety of antioxidants that are essential for boosting your immune system. If you’re looking to stay full for longer, beans and legumes are here to save the day. And in addition to their age-defying, hunger-helping protein, these tasty beans and legumes add a satisfying fiber-boost to any lunch or dinner:
- Black beans, white beans, navy beans, kidney beans, etc.
- Split peas, lentils, and chickpeas.
Fun Fact! A legume refers to a plant of the Fabaceae family (often a pod). Beans refer to the seeds inside the plant.
Super Cereal, Breads, and Grains
In this day and age, it seems that every fad diet forbids eating carbohydrates, including many cereals, breads, and grains. But contrary to popular belief, all carbs are not created equal. These high-fiber grains and other related foods contain complex carbohydrates and will keep you full long after you're finished eating:
- Whole-wheat pasta, rye bread, and whole-wheat tortillas.
- Grains such as brown rice, barley, oatmeal, spelt, and farro.
- A variety of high-fiber breakfast cereals (such as All-Bran, Grape Nuts, and Fiber One)
Beware Imposters: Loaves of white bread often add food coloring to their product and deceptively label them “wheat bread.” To weed out imposters, look at the first item on the ingredients list. Breads that list “whole-wheat” or “whole-grain” as their first ingredient are more likely to be rich in fiber.
You’re Nuts! (and Seeds)
Nuts and seeds are some of the most fiber-dense snacks around. Not only are they high in fiber, but they are also a tasty treat you can enjoy any time of day. Nuts can provide a quick energy boost when you need it most. But keep an eye on the serving size because some oil-heavy nuts are high in calories. Nuts offer an assortment of benefits, including lowering the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. A small serving of these nuts or seeds can help you achieve your daily fiber goals without sacrificing taste:
- Almonds, pistachios, chestnuts, and dried coconut.
- Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and flaxseed.
Healthy Tip: Try adding a serving of any of these fiber-rich nuts or seeds to your morning oatmeal for an extra fiber-packed start to your day!
These are only some of the many delicious, high-fiber foods available at your local supermarket. Explore, experiment, and find what you love so you can keep a high-fiber diet.
Why Do I Need to Eat High-Fiber Foods?
Now that you know some of the delicious fiber-rich foods that can help you reach the recommended daily intake, it’s important to understand what makes fiber so important. There are an assortment of health benefits to getting enough fiber. Among other things, fiber:
- Reduces complications from type 2 diabetes by preventing spikes in blood sugar.
- Lowers risk of heart disease and stroke by decreasing bad cholesterol.
- Helps to manage irregular bowel movements like constipation and diarrhea.
- Makes you feel full longer when trying to lose weight.
- Improves gut and digestive health.
And if you aren’t able to reach your daily intake requirements by eating enough high-fiber foods, there is also the option of taking supplemental fiber powders, pills, and other various solutions. So whether you eat a naturally high-fiber diet or need the extra boost, you can always be sure to get the fiber you need.