Good Food Sources of Fiber: Not What You Might Expect!
- 6 Minutes Read
Do you struggle to consume enough fiber? Not all foods are equally well-endowed - some foods are naturally higher than others. This post focuses on food sources of fiber rather than fiber supplements.
Do you struggle to consume enough fiber? Not all foods are equally well-endowed - some foods are naturally higher than others. And now there are many fiber fortified foods on the market to give you a boost. Are these foods as good as or better than naturally occurring sources? As a general rule, the more whole and unprocessed food choices you can make the better. After all, processed foods come with other stuff that you might not be aware of or want in your foods - e.g. salt, preservatives, food coloring, high fructose corn syrup or other added sugars, or partially hydrogenated oils. And to boot, there is some discussion that added fibers might not be as healthful as naturally occurring fiber in foods.
The food sources listed below are not exhaustive - they simply include foods that are particularly high in fiber. Note that all legumes, whole grains, fruits and veggies provide fiber. The Institute of Medicine recommends 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories consumed. Or, you can follow a basic rule of thumb: 25 grams fiber for women, 38 grams fiber for men. For more information on why fiber is important for weight and health, see WebMD's article (and slideshow): "The Benefits of Fiber".
Cooked dried beans and peas (legumes) are naturally high in fiber and are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and protein. These starches have a low glycemic index so although they are high in carbs, their fiber content helps tame the blood glucose response after consumption.
|Navy beans||1/2 cup cooked||10 grams|
|Pinto beans||1/2 cup cooked||8 grams|
|Lentils||1/2 cup cooked||8 grams|
|Split peas||1/2 cup cooked||8 grams|
|Black beans||1/2 cup cooked||7 grams|
|Chickpeas/garbanzo beans||1/2 cup cooked||6 grams|
|White beans||1/2 cup cooked||6 grams|
Ground flaxseed is a low carb source of fiber. Just be aware that a standard serving size (2 tablespoons) contains 80 calories - a high caloric price for 4 grams of fiber. But the good news is that the calories come from super healthy omega-3 fatty acids - alpha-linolenic acid. If you consume whole flax seed instead of ground, then your caloric load will likely be less since the whole seed is less digestible than the ground form.
Fresh fruit provides fiber, but some types provide more than others. When you are trying to boost fiber using a fruit source, think of berries. 1 cup provides about 65 calories and only 1 carb choice (11-20 grams total carbs). This is double the standard serving size of other fruits (e.g. peaches, apples, pears, etc.) for the same average calories and carb content. Interestingly, while most berries are very high in fiber, strawberries and blueberries are more typical of other fruits at 3 grams per serving. And note that prunes also contain 3 grams of fiber for a standard serving size of 1/4 cup dried fruit - but with a higher caloric cost of 100 calories.
|Blackberries||1 cup raw||8 grams|
|Raspberries||1 cup raw||8 grams|
|Loganberries||1 cup frozen||8 grams|
|Boysenberries||1 cup frozen||7 grams|
A slice of whole grain bread from most commercial bakeries weighs about 40 grams (1 1/3 oz) and provides about 3 grams of dietary fiber. "Double fiber" and "low carb" breads contain 5-6 grams of fiber and 50-100 calories per slice.
Whole grain tortillas are a mixed bag and they vary greatly by brand and size. Read the Nutrition Facts panel (food label) before purchasing. White flour tortillas will be the highest in calories (300 calories for burrito size) and lowest in fiber (1-2 grams). Corn tortillas, due to their small size, will be modest in calories (about 60 calories/tortilla) and contain only 2 grams fiber. Whole grain tortillas will provide 3-5 grams of fiber depending upon size. As with bread, you can find "double fiber" or "low carb" tortillas that contain at least 7 grams or more of fiber and 80-100 calories per tortilla.
|La Banderita Xtreme Soft Taco Flour Tortilla||1 tortilla||12 grams|
|La Tortilla Factory's Low Carb High Fiber Tortillas||1 tortilla||12 grams|
|Ole Xtreme Wellness High Fiber Low Carb Tortilla||1 tortilla||9 grams|
|Trader Joe's Low Carb High Fiber Low Fat Tortilla||1 tortilla||7 grams|
|Pepperidge Farm Double Fiber Bread||1 slice||6 grams|
|Orowheat Double Fiber Bread||1 slice||5 grams|
Pro: Double fiber bread and tortillas are typically lower in calories than their regular whole grain counterparts. This is due to the fact that a greater percentage of the weight is coming from fiber - a non-digestible carbohydrate.
Con: The taste of double fiber products can be a bit off putting. Also, the fiber content might be too high and cause discomfort. Drink plenty of water when you use these types of products.
Contrary to popular belief, most non-starchy veggies are not particularly high in fiber per standard serving of 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw. Most types provide only 2 grams of fiber. Lettuce is actually quite low at 1 gram of fiber per 2 cups.
The exception is the artichoke - 1 medium contains a whopping 10 grams of fiber. But be sure to eat the edible portion of the leaves as well as the heart. This is new data from USDA Release 25 so it might not be reflected in all food databases just yet.
Whole grain dry breakfast cereals contain 3-5 grams of fiber per standard 3/4 cup serving. Kellogg's All Bran Original is a particularly high source at 10 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup serving and contains only 80 calories. For even higher fiber cereals, you can look to brands such as Fiber One - they add fiber to their products. All dry breakfast cereals are essentially processed foods so be sure to look at the label and pick one that is lower in added sugars and salt.
Cooked rolled or steel cut oats or buckwheat (Kasha) contain 4-5 grams of fiber per 1 cup cooked serving - and that comes with 150-160 calories. Oat bran is a better deal for the calories - 6 grams of fiber for 90 calories in 1 cup cooked.
If you are low in fiber, try making a few simple food swaps or additions to see if you can meet your goal. Choose unprocessed food sources if you can but use the added fiber products to help out if you need them. And be sure to drink plenty of water to help keep your bowels moving. High fiber/low water intake is a recipe for a stopped up gut!
Fiber values for foods (except for the artichoke) listed in this post were obtained from MyNetDiary. For basic information about carbohydrates and fiber, please read my article on Carbs at MyNetDiary.Nutrients->"Carbs: Fiber, Starch, & Sugar"