Foods high in fiber offer health-boosting benefits that make them essential to any healthy eating plan.
Foods rich in fiber support the healthy functioning of the digestive system. They lower the risk of gastrointestinal disorders, including colorectal cancer.
Fiber promotes healthy bowel function by softening the stool and preventing constipation. It promotes gut motility and overall colonic health by providing a substrate for the gut’s colony of beneficial bacteria.
Foods high in fiber are good for people on a weight-loss diet plan. They prevent obesity by promoting satiety and lowering calorie intake. They are also good for people trying to control their blood sugar levels. High-fiber diets control post-meal blood sugar spikes in people with type 2 diabetes by slowing down digestion and promoting the feeling of fullness or satiety.
Besides their roles in promoting weight loss and controlling blood sugar, fiber lowers the risk of heart disease by lowering “bad” blood cholesterol levels.
According to Quagliani and colleagues (2016), fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.
The authors cite the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommendation of fiber intake ranging from 19g to 38g per day (depending on age and gender) to ward off heart disease.
According to IOM (2002), a daily fiber intake of 38g for men (up to the age of 50) and 25g for women (up to the age of 50) may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. IOM also recommended a daily intake of at least 30g for men (older than 50) and 21g for women (older than 50) to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Low dietary fiber intake is a public health concern
Quagliani and colleagues noted that surveys have found that only about 5% of Americans meet expert recommendations of daily dietary fiber intake and that low fiber intake is a public health concern.
If you are trying to increase your fiber intake to recommended levels and you are compiling your list of go-to foods to support your diet plan, then you’ve come to the right place.
In a previous article, we listed 12 foods high in fiber, focussing on nuts, seeds, and legumes. We noted that many high-fiber foods are also belly-filling snacks high in protein that people who live busy and active lives can conveniently eat on the go.
We shall now focus on fruits, leafy green vegetables, roots, and tubers high in fiber.
Most fruits and leafy green vegetables are also foods low in carbs, so they can form part of a ketogenic diet for weight loss or a diet designed to control blood sugar levels. They are also generally low in calories and fats, so they can play a role in any healthful low-calorie or low-fat diet.
However, some fruits, roots, and tubers have high energy contents due to relatively high levels of carbs, so if you are on a low-calorie diet, you may want to limit your intake of these foods or exclude them based on your dietitian’s advice.
Here are 13 foods you can add to your diet to increase your fiber intake.
Foods high in fiber: Leafy green vegetables, roots, and tubers
1. Broccoli, raw
Broccoli (Brassica Oleracea) belong to a family of vegetables known as cruciferous vegetables.
A 100-gram serving of raw broccoli contains 2.6 grams of fiber, according to USDA’s FoodData Central.
A cup of chopped broccoli weighing 91g contains 2.37g of fiber, equivalent to 9.5% of IOM’s recommended intake of 25g for women up to the age of 50 who want to reduce their risk of heart disease.
Broccoli is low in carbs and calories, making it suitable for people on a weight loss diet. It is rich in potassium and contains phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.
Broccoli is also a good source of vitamins A, K, C, and folate. It is a good source of the carotenoid antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Delcourt and colleagues reported that carotenoids protect against age-related eye disorders.
Nutrition facts: 100g of broccoli, raw
- Fiber, total dietary: 2.6g
- Energy: 34Kcal
- Calcium, Ca: 47mg
- Magnesium, Mg: 21mg
- Phosphorus, P: 66mg
- Potassium, K: 316mg
- Zinc, Zn: 0.41mg
- Copper, Cu: 0.049mg
- Manganese, Mn: 0.21mg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 89.2mg
- Pantothenic acid: 0.573mg
- Vitamin B-6: 0.175mg
- Folate, total: 63µg
- Vitamin A, IU: 623IU
- Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 102µg
- Carotene, beta: 361µg
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 1400µg
Studies suggest that broccoli may reduce the risk of heart disease and protect against prostate cancer in men.
The phytochemical compound sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts may also promote the detoxification of aflatoxins and other airborne toxins, Kensler and colleagues reported.
Broccoli and other veggies of the cruciferous family contain precursors that the body can use as building blocks to synthesize the antioxidant glutathione.
Sedlak and colleagues concluded that sulforaphane boosts brain levels of glutathione (GSH). GSH is a powerful antioxidant that helps to sustain health and promote longevity by protecting the body from toxins and oxidative stress, according to Pizzorno.
Decreased levels of brain GSH have been linked with neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. Low levels of GSH have also been linked with macular degeneration of the eyes, Parkinson’s disease, and many other neurodegenerative disorders.
2. Turnips greens, raw
Turnips are root vegetables that also belong to the cruciferous family. Turnip greens refer to the fiber-rich stem and leafy parts of the plant.
A 100-gram serving of raw turnip greens has a total dietary fiber content of 3.2g. A cup of chopped turnip greens weighing about 55g contains 1.76g of fiber.
The fiber content of a 100-gram serving of turnip greens (3.2g) is equivalent to 12.8% of IOM’s recommended daily intake for health-conscious women up to 50 years.
Turnips are low-calorie veggies that contain minerals, such as potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. They also contain vitamin C, A, K, folate, and the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Nutrition facts: 100g of turnip greens, raw
- Fiber, total dietary: 3.2g
- Energy: 32 kcal
- Calcium, Ca: 190mg
- Iron, Fe: 1.1mg
- Magnesium, Mg: 31mg
- Phosphorus, P: 42mg
- Potassium, K: 296mg
- Zinc, Zn: 0.19mg
- Copper, Cu: 0.35mg
- Manganese, Mn: 0.466mg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 60mg
- Niacin: 0.6mg
- Pantothenic acid: 0.38mg
- Vitamin B-6: 0.263mg
- Folate, total: 194µg
- Carotene, beta: 6950µg
- Vitamin A, IU: 11600IU
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 12800µg
- Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 251 µg
Studies show that turnips have the same nutritional health benefits as other members of the cruciferous family of veggies. They contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates (GLS). GLS in turnips can be metabolized in the gut to produce isothiocyanates (ITCs) that have antioxidant properties and may protect against various types of cancer.
3. Cauliflower, raw
Cauliflowers are yet another example of high-fiber vegetables that belong to the cruciferous family.
A cup of chopped raw cauliflowers weighing 107g contains a total dietary fiber of 2.14g. A 100-gram serving of raw cauliflowers has a fiber content of 2g, about 8% of IOM’s recommended daily fiber intake for women up to the age of 50 who want to stay healthy.
Cauliflowers are rich in vitamins, such as C, K, folate, and choline. They are also a good source of minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
Nutrition facts: 100g of cauliflower, raw
- Fiber, total dietary: 2g
- Energy: 25kcal
- Calcium, Ca: 22mg
- Magnesium, Mg: 15mg
- Phosphorus, P: 44mg
- Potassium, K: 299mg
- Zinc, Zn: 0.27mg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 48.2mg
- Niacin: 0.507mg
- Pantothenic acid: 0.667mg
- Folate, total: 57µg
- Choline, total: 44.3mg
- Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 15.5µg
Adding cauliflowers to the list of your go-to foods high in fiber comes with many health benefits.
Although animal food products are high in choline, nutritionists advise that plant-based diets are the healthiest sources of choline.
The choline content of cauliflower is involved in brain and CNS development through the synthesis of acetylcholine, a key brain neurotransmitter that regulates muscle activation and the maintenance of normal cognitive function.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that neuronal cells of the CNS (brain and spinal cord) use to signal across synapses to other neurons and muscle cells.
Low levels of acetylcholine have been linked with the disruption of regulatory and control functions of the body, including heart rate, respiratory rate, appetite, and digestion. Low levels of acetylcholine affect mood and cognitive function. Decreased levels of acetylcholine have also been linked with degenerative brain diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimers.
Cauliflower is also a source of the antioxidant sulforaphane that has anti-inflammatory properties. Sulforaphane protects against oxidative stress that leads to cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis.
4. Carrots, raw
Carrots are also root vegetables. They are popular snacks that can be eaten alone, raw, cooked, or served with soups or salad.
A 100-gram serving of carrots contains 2.8g of dietary fiber. A cup of chopped carrots weighing 128g contains 3.58g of fiber, about 14.32% of the recommended daily intake for females up to 50 years.
In addition to fiber, carrots contain lots of vitamin A, K, folate, and the mineral potassium.
Carrots are exceptionally rich in the carotenoid pigment beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. The antioxidant pigments are stored in their roots of the carrot plant.
Both beta- and alpha-carotene are known as pro-vitamin A carotenoids or vitamin A precursors. They are known as vitamin A precursors because our bodies can convert them into vitamin A in the gut.
Carotenoids play a role in maintaining good eye function, good skin condition, and boosting the immune system. They also protect against certain types of cancers.
Other carotenoids include lycopene (found in tomatoes), lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Nutrition facts: 100g of carrots, raw
- Fiber, total dietary: 2.8g
- Energy: 41kcal
- Calcium, Ca: 33mg
- Potassium, K: 320mg
- Folate, total: 19µg
- Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 13.2µg
- Carotene, beta: 8280µg
- Carotene, alpha: 3480µg
- Vitamin A, IU: 16700IU
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 256µg
Nicolle and colleagues reported that carotenoids may regulate cholesterol levels and have cardio-protective properties.
The low calorie and high fiber content of carrots could make them beneficial for people trying to lose weight.
Carrots also support gut health through bacterial fermentation of fiber to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
SCFAs have been shown to promote gut health by preventing inflammation. According to Tan and colleagues, they also play a role in maintaining overall health and preventing diseases.
5. Potatoes, boiled, cooked in skin without salt
Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are starchy tubers that provide staple food for millions of people.
In addition to being rich in carbs, they are a good source of dietary fiber. A 100-gram serving of potatoes supplies 3.3g of fiber, according to the USDA nutrient profile database.
Although many health-conscious eaters prefer to limit their intake of potatoes due to the high carb content, they offer some nutritional benefits besides their high fiber and low-fat content.
They contain resistant starch that supports beneficial gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
Robertson and colleagues concluded that resistant starch may improve insulin sensitivity and thus help in controlling blood sugar.
Potatoes also contain fair amounts of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and calcium. They are a good source of trace minerals, including zinc, copper, and manganese. They also contain vitamins, such as C, B6, and folate.
Nutrition facts: 100g of potatoes cooked with skin without salt
- Fiber, total dietary: 3.3g
- Energy: 78kcal
- Iron, Fe: 6.07mg
- Magnesium, Mg: 30mg
- Phosphorus, P: 54mg
- Potassium, K: 407mg
- Zinc, Zn: 0.44mg
- Copper, Cu: 0.878mg
- Manganese, Mn: 1.34mg
- Folate, total: 10µg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 5.2mg
Yellow-fleshed potatoes contain carotenoid antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin), flavonoids (catechin), and phenolic compounds (chlorogenic acid) that may help combat oxidative stress and lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Nutritionists advise people who want to increase their intake of antioxidants not to peel their potatoes but cook them in the skin.
Cooking your potatoes without peeling also helps retain their fiber and mineral content.
6. Brussels sprouts, raw
Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea) are high-fiber vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked. They belong to the same family of cruciferous vegetables as cabbages and broccoli.
A 100-gram serving of crunchy leafy vegetables contains 3.8g of dietary fiber. A cup of brussels sprouts weighing 88g contains 3.34g of fiber, equivalent to about 13.36% of recommended daily intake for women up to 50 years.
Besides supplying impressive amounts of health-promoting fiber, brussels sprouts also contain sizeable amounts of vitamins A, C, B6, folate, and choline. They are a good source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
Nutrition facts: 100g of Brussels sprouts, raw
- Fiber, total dietary: 3.8g
- Energy: 43kcal
- Calcium, Ca: 42mg
- Magnesium, Mg: 23mg
- Phosphorus, P: 69mg
- Potassium, K: 389mg
- Zinc, Zn: 0.42mg
- Manganese, Mn: 0.337mg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 85mg
- Niacin: 0.745mg
- Pantothenic acid: 0.309mg
- Vitamin B-6: 0.219mg
- Folate, total: 61µg
- Vitamin A, IU: 754IU
- Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 177µg
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 1590µg
Brussels sprouts are also a good source of antioxidants that protect against various diseases, including cancer and heart disease. They contain detoxifying antioxidants that promote health by countering oxidative damage.
Brussels sprouts boost levels of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH) and related enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST) in the gastrointestinal tract, Loguerico and colleagues reported.
GSH and GST promote healthy digestive function by preventing inflammation linked with oxidative damage.
A high intake of glucosinolate-rich Brussels sprouts lowers cancer risk, Nijhoff and colleagues reported.
Glutathione promotes gut health by preventing inflammation caused by oxidative stress.
According to Bogaards and colleagues, eating Brussels sprouts boosts blood levels of GST and may lower cancer risk.
Brussels sprouts also contain the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) that has been shown to protect against type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity.
Golbidi and colleagues concluded that patients with diabetic neuropathy may benefit from ALA supplementation.
Kaempferol, an antioxidant in Brussels sprouts, has heart-protective properties, according to Olszanecki and colleagues.
Jae Kyeom Kim and colleagues reported that due to the high content of kaempferol in Brussels sprouts, they could protect against cell damage due to oxidative stress.
7. Artichoke, raw
Globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus L.) or French artichokes are thistles cultivated for their edible budding flower-heads.
According to USDA’s FoodData Central database, a 100-gram serving of artichokes contains about 5.4g of dietary fiber. A medium-sized artichoke weighing about 128g supplies about 6.91g of fiber, equivalent to 27.64% of IOM’s recommended daily intake for women up to the age of 50 years who want to reduce their risk of heart disease.
The fiber content of globe artichokes includes inulin-type long-chain fructans with prebiotic properties, according to Zeaiter and colleagues. Artichoke inulin can support the growth of health-promoting probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species that improve digestive health and alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (flatulence, bloating, and diarrhea).
Artichokes offer many health benefits besides being an excellent source of dietary fiber. They are a good source of minerals and vitamins.
Artichokes contain blood pressure-regulating minerals, magnesium, and potassium. They also contain iron, phosphorus, and moderate amounts of folate, vitamins C, and K.
Nutrition facts: 100g of artichokes, raw
- Fiber, total dietary: 5.4g
- Energy: 47kcal
- Calcium, Ca: 44mg
- Iron, Fe: 1.28mg
- Magnesium, Mg: 60mg
- Phosphorus, P: 90mg
- Potassium, K: 370mg
- Zinc, Zn: 0.49mg
- Copper, Cu: 0.231mg
- Manganese, Mn: 0.256mg
- Niacin: 1.05mg
- Pantothenic acid: 0.338mg
- Folate, total: 68µg
- Choline, total: 34.4mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.219mg
- Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 14.8µg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 11.7mg
Li and colleagues reported that artichoke flavonoids may play a role in preventing high blood pressure. They may protect against cardiovascular disease by boosting the production of endothelial nitric-oxide synthase (eNOS), an enzyme that plays a role in the production of the vasodilator nitric oxide.
Artichokes are an antioxidant powerhouse. The leaf extracts contain antioxidant luteolin that may prevent inflammation, insulin resistance, and fatty liver disease, according to Kwon and colleagues.
Supplementation with luteolin-rich artichoke extract may alleviate hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease) and dyslipidemia (high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides), the authors concluded.
Artichokes are a rich source of antioxidant phenolic compounds, such as caffeoylquinic acids (chlorogenic acid, cynarin), caffeic acid and flavonoids (luteolin), believed to be effective for the treatment of hepatic (liver) disorders, according to Wittemer and colleagues.
The antioxidants in artichoke extract prevent liver damage, promote liver function, boost bile production (choleresis), and may play a role in the management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), Rangboo and colleagues reported.
Besides its powerful antioxidant properties, chlorogenic acid and cynarin help improve the palatability of otherwise unpleasant-tasting foods by partially inhibiting the tongue’s sweet-taste receptors.
Foods high in fiber: Health benefits of fruits
8. Raspberries, raw
Raspberries are an excellent source of dietary fiber.
A 100-gram serving of raw raspberries has a dietary fiber content of 6.5g, about 26% of the recommended daily intake for females up to 50 years.
Raspberries have the added advantage of being low in carbs, making them also suitable for people on a low-calorie or low-carb diet. They are a good source of vitamins, such as vitamin C, K, folate, and choline.
Raspberries contain manganese and fair amounts of minerals, such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.
Nutrition facts: 100g of raspberries, raw
- Fiber, total dietary: 6.5g
- Energy: 52kcal
- Calcium, Ca: 25 mg
- Magnesium, Mg: 22mg
- Phosphorus, P: 29mg
- Potassium, K: 151mg
- Zinc, Zn: 0.42mg
- Manganese, Mn: 0.67mg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 26.2mg
- Niacin: 0.598mg
- Pantothenic acid: 0.329mg
- Folate, total: 21µg
Raspberries contain phytochemicals called anthocyanins that give them bright and attractive colors. Studies have linked anthocyanins to improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of heart attacks.
9. Pears, raw
A 100-gram serving of pears (raw) contains a total dietary fiber of 3.1g, about 12.4% of recommended daily intake for women up to 50 years.
Obtaining your dietary fiber from pears means you also get many vitamins and minerals essential for health.
Pears are a good source of vitamin C. They contain fair amounts of minerals potassium, iron, and calcium. They are also a good source of copper, a trace mineral.
Pears contain phytochemical compounds, such as catechins, that help prevent blood clots, high blood pressure and promote cardiovascular health.
10. Apples, raw, with skin
As well as being tasty and healthful snacks, apples contain enough dietary fiber to make up for a significant part of any shortfall in your daily intake.
A 100-gram portion of raw apples with skin has a total dietary fiber content of about 2.4g. The amount is equivalent to 9.6% of the recommended daily intake for women up to 50 years old.
Based on FDA’s estimation that a large apple may weigh up to about 240g, a serving of a large apple may contain up to 5.76g of fiber, 23% of the recommended fiber intake for adult women.
Apples contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. They are not only tasty foods high in fiber, but they also come packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Apples are rich in vitamin C. They contain vitamin K and potassium. They also contain antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Nutrition facts: 100g of apples, raw with skin
- Fiber, total dietary: 2.4g
- Energy: 52 kcal
- Potassium, K: 107mg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 4.6mg
- Vitamin K (phylloquinone): 2.2µg
Apples are rich in antioxidant phytochemicals, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid, according to Boyer and Liu.
Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It is found in the skin of apples and may protect against cancer and heart diseases.
Pectin is a soluble fiber that promotes colonic health and prevents constipation. Beneficial bacteria in the gut ferment pectin to produce short-chain fatty acids that lower the risk of bowel diseases, including cancer.
Pectin may lower cholesterol levels and improve insulin resistance.
11. Bananas, raw
A 100-gram serving of raw bananas has a total dietary fiber content of 2.6g. A large banana weighing 136g contains about 3.54g of fiber, 14.1% of the daily requirement for adult women.
Bananas are a good source of Vitamin A, C, folate, and choline. The mineral content includes potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. They also contain beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
If you’ve been wondering whether you can safely include bananas in your diet, you can read up everything you need to know about bananas here.
12. Oranges, raw
Oranges provide many health benefits, including dietary fiber. A 100-gram portion contains 2.4g of health-boosting fiber. A medium-sized fruit weighing about 131g may contain 3.1g of fiber, about 12.6% of the recommended daily intake for adult women.
Oranges are rich in vitamin C and contain appreciable amounts of vitamin A and folate. They are a good source of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.
They are also a good source of beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin (a carotenoid pigment the body can convert to Vitamin A), lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Oranges contain phytochemicals known as flavanones. Studies have linked flavanones with a reduced risk of heart diseases and cancer. Flavanones also have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties.
Studies suggest that flavonoids in oranges improve cognitive function and may have neuroprotective properties.
Oranges also have a blood-thinning effect, and their citrate content may protect against kidney stones. The vitamin C content of oranges prevents iron deficiency anemia by promoting iron uptake.
Nutrition facts: 100g of oranges, raw
- Fiber, total dietary: 2.4g
- Energy: 47kcal
- Potassium, K: 181mg
- Calcium, Ca: 40mg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 53.2mg
- Folate, total: 30µg
- Carotene, beta: 71µg
- Cryptoxanthin, beta: 116µg
- Vitamin A, IU: 225IU
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 129µg
Although most natural fruit juices are deficient in vitamin D, some commercial manufacturers fortify their orange juice products with the sunshine vitamin. Biancuzzo and colleagues concluded that vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 added to orange juices have the same level of bioavailability as in other supplements, including capsules.
13. Strawberries, raw
Strawberries, according to USDA data, have a total dietary fiber content of 2g per 100-gram serving. A cup of sliced strawberries weighing 166g contains 3.32g of fiber, equivalent to13.28% of the recommended intake for women up to 50 years.
Strawberries have many health-boosting benefits besides supplying dietary fiber. They contain folate, vitamin C, and potassium.
Nutrition facts: 100g of strawberries, raw
- Fiber, total dietary: 2g
- Energy: 32kcal
- Potassium, K: 153mg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 58.8mg
- Folate, total: 24µg
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 26µg
According to Skrovankova and colleagues, the vitamin C and phenolic compound content (flavonols, tannins, and flavonoids, such as anthocyanins) of strawberries could have cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.
Studies also suggest that antioxidants in strawberries could protect against diabetes.
Edirisinghe and colleagues reported that strawberry antioxidants reduce post-meal inflammation and promote insulin sensitivity.
The polyphenol content of strawberries (ellagitannins and ellagic acid) may also help to control blood sugar and high blood sugar-linked hypertension, according to Pinto and colleagues.