The majority of us are familiar with the term fiber and are mindful that we can eat a fair amount of it in our diet. But, between the pressures of pandemic parenting and the need to get in and out of the grocery store as quickly as possible, making sure we’re actually reaching our daily fiber quota may feel like too much trouble.
It is important to consume a sufficient amount of fiber: It keeps our intestines going and our guts safe, which has a slew of other health benefits, including a boost to our immune system and a decrease in anxiety. Soluble and insoluble fibers are the two types of fiber. You need both in your diet, but soluble fiber-rich foods play a special role in gut health.
What is soluble fiber?
According to Lisa Burnett, RD, a registered dietician with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition, fiber is a complex carbohydrate that your body can’t digest.
According to Cleveland Clinic, soluble fiber dissolves in water and body fluids. When it moves through your body, it forms a gel and feeds the intestinal bacteria as it enters the colon. “Its sole function is to help in the slowing down of digestion,” Burnett states. “As a result, everything travels much more slowly through the intestines, which encourages good GI health.”
Insoluble fiber absorbs liquids and other materials and binds them together to form stool, resulting in more frequent, bulkier bowel movements.
According to Burnett, you need 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day, with around half of that coming from soluble fiber. Getting enough soluble fiber improves gut health, which has been shown to lower cholesterol, boost mental health, and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and gastrointestinal cancers.
“We also see fiber playing a major role in weight control,” she says. “Eating a high-fiber diet leaves you fuller for longer, which will help you stop overeating and hunger in between meals.”
Despite the fact that the two forms of fiber have different benefits, Burnett warns against obsessing about whether you’re getting enough soluble or insoluble fiber. She describes it as “daunting, frustrating, and simply too much.”
Instead, try to consume at least two and a half cups of vegetables, two cups of fruit, and six servings of grain, ideally whole grain, per day. The following are 20 foods high in soluble fiber.
Foods High In Soluble Fiber
# 1 Black Beans
Soluble fiber is abundant in beans, making them one of the better suppliers. One cup of black beans has 15 grams of fiber in it, which is around half of what you need for the day. Black beans are high in antioxidants and pectin, a soluble fiber that slows digestion and provides more time for nutrients to be absorbed.
# 2 Chickpeas
Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are a nutritious addition to soups and salads, as well as hummus. They’re both high in soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and promote gut health.
# 3 Lentils
According to Cleveland Clinic, these quick-cooking legumes can easily be substituted for meat in dishes like soup or chili to make them plant-based. They’re also low in calories, high in protein, and high in fiber, with 8 grams per half cup.
# 4 Edamame
Edamame is a delicious addition to salads and stir-fries, and it’s one of the few plant sources that contains all of the amino acids your body requires, making it a great vegan and vegetarian choice. In addition, half a cup has 7 grams of fiber.
# 5 Lima Beans
Butter beans are flat light green beans that are high in fiber and protein. They contain the soluble fiber pectin, much like black beans. Lima beans should be soaked and cooked rather than eaten raw because they are poisonous.
# 6 Barley
While barley is not as well-known as other grains, it is a very safe food to include in your diet. There are 6 grams of fiber in only one cup. It can also help lower cholesterol, improve gut health, and improve cognitive function as you get older, according to study.
# 7 Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are probably sprinkled on your smoothie cups, and they provide a fiber boost. Chia seeds have a whopping 10 grams of fiber per tablespoon. Additionally, the seeds have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, as well as the potential to control diabetes and high blood pressure. They’ll even improve your immune system and make you feel healthy.
# 8 Flax Seeds
To make cereal and bread more nutritious, sprinkle these tiny seeds on top. Flax seeds are high in fiber and a good source of omega-3s, in addition to being high in soluble fiber.
# 9 Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great snack to have on hand. Protein, vitamins, minerals like magnesium and iron, antioxidants, healthy fats, and, of course, soluble fiber are all abundant in them.
# 10 Oats
Oats work well in a variety of dishes, including bread, granola bars, and even cookies. A safe and filling breakfast is a warm bowl of oatmeal. Oats contain the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which has been linked to improved blood sugar regulation and a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cholesterol.
# 11 Hazelnuts
Most nuts are high in fiber, but hazelnuts are especially high in soluble fiber. In hazelnuts, about a third of the fiber is soluble. Unsaturated fats, vitamin E, iron, and other nutrients are also present. They will help you lose weight as well as raise your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.
# 12 Brussels Sprouts
This cruciferous vegetable, which used to be at the top of many people’s “most hated foods” lists, has recently become popular, owing to its health benefits. Vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids are abundant in Brussels sprouts. Cooked sprouts often produce 5 grams of fiber per cup.
# 13 Broccoli
Broccoli, like Brussels sprouts, is a high-fiber vegetable with about half of the fiber being soluble. Broccoli is high in vitamin C and K, as well as folate and potassium. Broccoli has antioxidant and anticancer properties, according to research.
# 14 Avocados
If avocado toast is your go-to snack, you may not know how much fiber you’re getting. Avocados are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as healthy fats. Avocados have been shown in studies to improve cardiovascular health, weight management, and healthy aging.
# 15 Carrots
Carrots are delicious in any form, whether raw, roasted, or blended into soups. Most people are aware that they are high in beta-carotene, which is responsible for their orange hue, but the nutrient is also converted to vitamin A, which is beneficial to vision health. Carrots are also rich in fiber, with around half of it being soluble fiber.
# 16 Pears
A medium-sized pear contains 6 grams of fiber, with soluble fiber accounting for about a third of the total. Vitamin C, potassium, and a slew of antioxidants abound in pears. Since they’re rich in the natural sugars fructose and sorbitol, they can also function as laxatives.
# 17 Apples
Apples are nutritionally similar to pears, and the flesh of apples, in particular, is a good source of soluble fiber. Apples are also high in vitamins and minerals, and studies indicate that they help to encourage the growth of good gut bacteria.
# 18 Berries
Although all berries are high in fiber, raspberries and blackberries are particularly high in soluble fiber. 8 grams of fiber are contained in one cup of berries. Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them nutritious snacks and toppings for oatmeal, pancakes, and other dishes.
# 19 Artichoke Hearts
Steel, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin K, protein, and, of course, fiber are all plentiful in artichokes. It’s been proven that consuming artichokes reduces cholesterol, blood pressure, and improves gut health. If tackling a whole artichoke is too overwhelming, opt for canned or jarred artichokes; only make sure the sodium content isn’t too big on the nutrition label.
# 20 Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. They’re high in beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Soluble fiber makes up about half of a sweet potato’s fiber material.