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Health Benefits of a High Fiber Diet + High Fiber Foods to Eat Today

Fiber is one of the most important nutrients to consume. Learn all about the health benefits of dietary fiber and the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber in today’s post, including a list of delicious foods to include in a high fiber diet!

Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for our diet, but it does not get the attention it deserves. Fiber is certainly less glamorous than other trendy nutrients, as it might evoke images of your grandparents sipping on metamucil. But, the benefits of fiber go so beyond keeping us regular! I’m all in for making fiber the coolest nutrient, and I hope you will be too after reading this post.

What is Dietary Fiber?

Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plants that we consume when we eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Unlike the macro and micronutrients, our bodies are unable to digest and absorb fiber, so it passes through our digestive system intact.

Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. They each have unique health benefits. A high fiber diet should include sources of both types to get maximum benefits.

  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water, so it forms a gel in our digestive tract when we eat it. Because of this, it can bind to cholesterol in our bodies to help lower cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, beans, flaxseeds, barley, and apples.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, so it speeds up digestion and increases stool bulk. Good sources of insoluble fiber include nuts, cauliflower, whole wheat products, Brussels sprouts, and raspberries.

Health Benefits of a High Fiber Diet

  • Keeps us regular. Fiber, especially insoluble fiber, speeds up digestion and increases stool bulk. This helps prevent constipation and diarrhea to keep our bowels healthy and regular.
  • Weight management. High fiber foods are very filling, and lower in calories than other foods. Including many high fiber foods in our diets can promote healthy weight management.
  • Lower cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber forms a gel like substance in our bodies, which binds to “bad” LDL cholesterol to rid it from our bodies. Soluble fiber may also help improve other lipid markers (1).
  • Controls blood sugar levels. Fiber, especially soluble fiber, helps slow the absorption of blood sugar when we eat. Studies show that soluble fiber intake can reduce HbA1C, fasting blood glucose, and insulin resistance in people with Type 2 Diabetes (2).
  • Promotes gut health. The good bacteria that live in our guts depend on fermentable dietary products as a source of energy so they can be healthy and grow. Fiber from our diets feeds these good bacteria, so a high fiber diet promotes probiotic health, abundance, and diversity. Healthy gut bacteria also produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have their own health benefits such as reduced inflammation and reduced risk of chronic disease (3).
  • Reduced risk of chronic disease. High fiber diets are naturally high in plant foods, so they also come with lots of other amazing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help prevent chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and Type 2 Diabetes.

Dietary Fiber Recommendations

The dietary fiber recommendations are 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. For women and men over 50, these numbers drop to 21 grams and 30 grams, respectively. For reference, one half cup of black beans has about 8 grams of fiber, one cup of shredded wheat contains about 5 grams, and one half cup of raspberries has 4 grams (4). As you can see, you need to eat multiple portions of fiber rich foods (i.e. plant foods) throughout the day to meet the recommendations.

One reason why many Americans are not meeting their daily fiber needs is because the standard American diet is low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. There are plenty of fiber supplements out there, but they are devoid of many of the other health benefits that come with plant foods, like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, fiber from supplements may not be as filling as fiber from plant foods.

High Fiber Foods to Add to Your Diet

Now, the fun part! This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some of my favorite high fiber foods to enjoy daily. There are also some yummy recipes to give you inspiration to add more fiber to your diet!

Oatmeal

Contains 4 grams of fiber per 1 cup cooked oats. Try this Cacao Banana Oatmeal or Banana Baked Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips for an easy breakfast!

cacao banana oatmeal

Quinoa

Quinoa contains 2.6 grams of fiber per half cup. These Quinoa Enchilada Stuffed Peppers or this Moroccan Quinoa Salad from Choosing Chia would be perfect to add to your dinner menu!

quinoa stuffed peppers

Whole Wheat Pasta

Swap out white pasta for whole wheat, and you’ll get 3.2 grams of fiber per half cup serving! Some of my favorite whole wheat pasta dishes are this Spring Pasta with Lemon, Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Peas, and this Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Tuna.

high fiber diet pasta salad

Kale

One cup of kale has 2.6 grams of fiber. Even more reason to keep up your kale caesar habit! Check out this dairy free version, this Kale Cobb Salad from Dishing out Health, and this Rose Pasta with Asparagus and Kale from The First Mess to get your kale on!

kale caesar salad

Sweet Potato

One medium sweet potato has almost 4 grams of fiber. Make sure you’re eating the skin, though, as this is where most of the fiber (and other nutrients) lives! These Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes are a favorite of mine, and I’ve been dying to try these Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges by Mad About Food!

mexican stuffed sweet potato high fiber diet

Chickpeas

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are an excellent source of plant based protein and fiber. One half cup contains 8 grams! Fill up on this Chickpea and Roasted Vegetable Salad, Loaded Greek Hummus for a Crowd, or Chickpea and Avocado Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

chickpea and roasted vegetable salad

Black Beans

Black beans pack 7.5 grams of fiber per one half cup. Try out this delicious mango avocado salsa over my Mushroom Tacos, or this Black Bean Tomato Avocado Salad by Little Spice Jar.

mango avocado black bean salsa

White Beans

Are you guys picking up on a bean trend here? White beans are also a good source of fiber. One half cup will give you 5.7 grams! I love to make this Dreamy Pink Beet and White Bean Dip for dipping, and this Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup from Kristine’s Kitchen sounds so cozy.

white bean dip

Lentils

I love lentils of all kinds. One half cup has almost 8 grams of fiber. This Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup is one of my favorites. Also, check out this Lemony Lentil Soup by Gimme Some Oven.

coconut curry red lentil soup

Apples

One medium apple has about 4.5 grams of fiber. I love to put sautéed apples in my morning oatmeal and munch on apple nachos as a healthy snack.

apple nachos

Pears

Pears have even more fiber than apples. One pear has almost 6 grams of fiber! Some of my favorite pear recipes are Hasselback Baked Pears and Ginger Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes, and Pears.

hasselback baked pear

Chia Seeds

Last but not least, chia seeds are a really excellent dietary fiber source. One tablespoon has a 4 grams! Try this Blended Chocolate Chia Pudding or this Dreamy Coconut Chia Pudding with Blueberries from The Wooden Skillet.

chocolate chia pudding

High fiber diets are super healthy, because as you can see, they include lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. If you’re increasing your fiber intake, make sure to also drink plenty of water, because fiber digests better with water. What is your favorite way to get more fiber in your diet?

Let me know if you love this post by leaving a comment below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration.

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Quinoa Enchilada Stuffed Peppers (Vegan, Gluten Free)

 

These stuffed peppers are a completely plant-based entrée that pack tons of delicious flavor! They take less than 1 hour to prepare and are easy to make ahead of time.

There’s something so satisfying about eating your food out of other food – bread bowls, papaya boats, and these stuffed peppers! This is such a fun and pretty way to serve an otherwise brown and lackluster looking (but delicious) quinoa enchilada salad!

 Grain salads are one of my go-to meal prep recipe suggestions. They require minimal cooking, come together quickly, and are versatile and customizable. While quinoa is technically not a grain, it behaves and tastes very much like one, and therefore it is one of my favorite grains to cook with. Unlike other grains, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies must obtain from food because we cannot make them ourselves. This makes it a good, high quality source of plant based protein, which is great for those following a plant-based diet. Quinoa is also higher in fiber than most grains, so it is quite filling.

The quinoa salad featured in these stuffed peppers is one of my new favorites because it is so flavorful and so easy to prepare! It involves minimal chopping, and you just throw the ingredients into a big bowl and stir to combine. I couldn’t stop taking bites of it as I was stuffing the peppers! You could easily skip the stuffed peppers entirely and eat this over a bed of greens, but the peppers just look so colorful and pretty!

 Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (about 1 cup dry)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup red enchilada sauce
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 handfuls fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 4 bell peppers, sliced in half lengthwise and deseeded
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Instructions

  1. Prepare dry quinoa and frozen corn according to package instructions.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large glass baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Combine cooked quinoa, corn, black beans, enchilada sauce scallions, cilantro, lime juice and spices in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Arrange peppers, cut side up, in the baking dish (you may need to use two dishes, depending on the size of your peppers).
  5. Scoop about 1/3rd – ½ cup of quinoa stuffing into each pepper half.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until peppers are beginning to soften.
  7. Top with avocado slices and extra lime juice to serve.

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If you try this recipe, tag @daisybeet on Instagram so I can see your creations!