What foods are high in fiber? Dietary fibers are substances that are not attacked by digestive enzymes and that pass through the small intestine almost intact. Due to this characteristic, foods rich in fiber are essential for the body and have a beneficial effect on health, with a protective effect against obesity and diabetes and stimulating entire intestinal function.
The positive health effects occur at different levels. In fact, by regularly consuming foods rich in fiber, it is possible to regularize intestinal transit and reduce food fermentation with a consequent reduction in the formation of gas and the swollen belly effect.
The increase in fecal mass resulting from the intake of fibers favors the function of eliminating waste with a consequent positive detoxifying effect.
Furthermore, the sugars taken together with the fibers pass faster in the intestine, and their absorption reduces, with a following improvement in the glycemic index.
A diet rich in dietary fiber is particularly suitable in cases where you want to lose weight, thanks to the sense of induced satiety and the lower assimilation of ingested calories.
The regular intake of high-fiber foods is also associated with reduced cholesterol levels. It is to prevent certain diseases such as colon cancer, gastric ulcer, and diverticulosis by strengthening the intestinal walls.
What are the functions of foods rich in fiber, and in what quantities must one consume them?
A balanced and healthy diet provides a daily intake of 30 gr. of dietary fiber for adults and 0.5 gr per kilogram of body weight for children. Dietary fiber can be water-soluble or insoluble. The water-soluble fibers have the characteristic of binding with the water molecules contained in ingested foods.
For this reason, once in the small intestine tract, the soluble fibers form a gel that covers its walls, counteracting the absorption of carbohydrates and cholesterol, with beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and prevention of glycemic peaks, limiting body weight gain.
Soluble fibers are mainly present in legumes and fruit and are examples of pectin and mucilage. The insoluble fibers, such as cellulose, however, are mostly found in vegetables and whole grains. Their main feature is that they are hygroscopic. They absorb and retain water, thus increasing the fecal mass, making it softer, facilitating its evacuation, and helping to combat constipation.
Eating foods rich in insoluble fiber allows you to keep a clean intestine and reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases. In adults, a daily intake of 20g of insoluble fiber and 10 gr. of soluble fiber is preferable.
Foods rich in fiber: here’s what to eat.
Lentils and other beans are an effortless way to introduce fiber in any season, including them in soups, stews, and salads. Plus, they’re all a great source of protein. These foods are also put inside baked goods to make great cakes that are tasty but also good for you.
Classic vegetable fiber, broccoli is cruciferous. It means they come from the same genus of plants as cabbage and cauliflower. It makes them rich in many nutrients, in addition to fiber. Broccoli positively supports bacteria in the gut, helping them stay healthy and balanced.
Avocados fit just about anything. You can spread them on bread for a healthy breakfast, and you can put them in salads and eggs. You can make many tasty appetizers with them. They are a magnificent source of healthy fats and fiber. Go for Guacamole!
Popcorn is a delicious snack, whole grains that know how to satiate you with a little fiber. Don’t coat it in butter or caramel because they are good but not too good.
For whole grains, on the other hand, throw on bread and pasta as well as oats. Pay attention to the packaging you buy. To be considered true whole grains, these must be the first ingredient you read on the list.
5. Dehydrated prunes and apricots.
Traditionally, the consumption of dehydrated plums is one of the most popular home remedies for intestinal constipation. In general, all dehydrated fruit has excellent anti-constipation properties, but, in particular, prunes and apricots are among the most effective foods to ensure the regular functioning of the intestine.
In addition to having a good soluble fiber content (more than 7 grams per 100 of food), plums and apricots contain natural sweeteners such as sorbitol, also used in the packaging of sugar-free chewing gum. So why not directly replace chewing gum and candy with prunes and apricots?
This fruit contain fiber which is very healthy for us. Apples help us protect arteries and lower cholesterol. They are a pleasant snack that combines softness and crunchiness at the same time.
7. Dried fruit.
Figs, plums, dates, walnuts, almonds, etc. They are high-fiber foods and are great for constipation sufferers. These fruits contain sorbitol, a sugar that helps calm the intestines.
But don’t eat too much of it as it could lead to the opposite problem, such as cramps or diarrhea. Eat a small portion and see how you feel after going through digestion before taking a second handful.
Sweet, red, purple, and white potatoes are all good sources of fiber. If you don’t fry them and sprinkle them with salt, these tubers can offer several benefits. The fiber contained in potatoes protects the intestinal wall from potentially harmful chemicals found in some foods and drinks.
They are not only among foods rich in iron but also in fiber. It is a type of vegetable recommended in a functional diet, optimal for eliminating all toxins from the liver and having a good supply of mineral salts such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Not only that, but it is low in calories and helps keep fat absorption under control.
Dried fruit has a very good supply of iron. In particular, almonds are ideal for obtaining an active reserve of beauty and well-being. They are a source of magnesium and help control nervous hunger and insomnia attacks. But pay attention to its caloric intake. In fact, make sure to consume almonds in small doses (no more than seven per day).
11. Whole grains.
All whole grains are naturally high in fiber and help keep blood sugar intake and bad cholesterol in check. Cereals also increase the satiety index by limiting sudden hunger attacks.
Muesli is typical food for breakfast, and brunch and is also good for mid-morning or afternoon snacks.
It is an important source of fiber and a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates. Always very nutritious and balanced, muesli goes well with liquid or semi-liquid foods that enrich its nutritional profile.
The most common associations are with: milk, yogurt, vegetable milk, and others.
The granola, along with milk or yogurt proteins, is ideal for breakfast because it brings an impressive amount of B vitamins, vitamin E, folate, selenium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin A.
In short, you start the day by taking almost the entire recommended daily dose of most vitamins and minerals.
Muesli contains beta-glucan, which positively affects cholesterol, diabetes, and a sense of satiety.
Granola contains a high number of nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, and cashews. These nuts are known to be a glut of omega-3 fatty acids.
Bircher muesli was originally invented as part of an apple diet, developed around 1900 by the Swiss doctor Bircher-Benner who served it as a raw and easily digestible dinner in his clinic.
13. Cooked peas (fresh, dried, or frozen).
Strictly speaking, peas are not vegetables. They belong to the legume family, which comprises plants that yield pods with seeds inside. Chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, and beans are also part of the legume’s family.
Peas carry a significant amount of fiber and have an impressive nutritional profile. They have a rather low-calorie content, a high protein content, and large quantities of vitamin A and vitamin K. Good are the contents of vitamin B1, folate, manganese, iron, and phosphorus.
They are also high in polyphenolic antioxidants, which are likely responsible for many of their health benefits.
The benefits of eating peas come from the reduced risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer.
14. Whole wheat bread.
Whole meal bread is definitely richer in fiber and protein and has more ancient origins than what we are used to consuming. It is a type of bread that is obtained by baking a dough made from whole meal flour, water, salt, and yeast.
It has a fundamental place in the Mediterranean tradition as a primary component of nutrition, to the point that the label itself can turn out to be synonymous with food.
Whole meal bread is an excellent source of fiber, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins of group B, and folate. It also has decent amounts of vitamin K and E.
In the bread-making process, the fiber increases the absorption of water, the development time of the dough, and the resistance to kneading. At the same time, the gas retention capacity and consequently also the volume of the bread decreases.
The health benefits of daily whole meal bread consumption relate to the reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, and colon cancer.
15. Spelt flour (pearled/peeled).
Spelt is, in effect, a kind of wheat because it belongs to the same genus as wheat, which is Triticum.
It is a recently rediscovered cereal but widely used in ancient times. We are talking, perhaps, of one of the first cereals to be cultivated by man. The Romans made immense use of it.
Spelt flour, one of the least caloric flours, has exceptional amounts of fiber, phosphorus, and vitamins B1 and B3. It also has excellent amounts of potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B5, and folate.
Spelt, but only in the monococcum variety, has a very low gluten content (3%). It is particularly suitable for those at risk of celiac disease and those sensitive to gluten.
Spelt is an excellent source of protein. When combined with legumes, spelt offers a complete protein source, i.e., an adequate amount of essential amino acids.
Whole grains associate with better health because they contain wide-ranging antioxidant compounds, such as phytosterols, carotenoids, selenium, and polyphenols.
Unlike wheat or corn, before the grinding process that leads to transforming it into flour, spelt needs another process to remove the outer shell.
The process that conserves the most fiber is peeling, and you will then obtain flour (tending to brown). The other process is called pearling seeds, and you will then obtain a flour tending to white; this process removes much more fiber.
16. Red raspberries.
Raspberries are consumed as fresh, dried, frozen, or processed fruit. A glass of red raspberries is enough to take about 8g of fiber.
The commercial industry transforms inferior quality raspberries into juice or puree. In contrast, the best quality fruits are individually frozen and destined for the confectionery industry to produce cakes, desserts, pastries, ice cream, etc.
Whole raspberries can be easily integrated into the diet, for example, by adding them to yogurt, porridge, muesli, pancakes, smoothies, meat salads, and desserts.
In addition to the excellent amount of fiber, raspberries have an exceptional amount of vitamin C and manganese and good vitamin E and K levels.
In addition, red raspberries have excellent levels of carotenoids, mainly lutein esters.
Raspberries are also high in tannins, which block alpha-amylase, a digestive enzyme needed to digest starch. Raspberries can lessen the number of carbohydrates absorbed after a meal and their impact on blood sugar by blocking alpha-amylase.
Raspberry is a true “fat-burning” fruit because it is rich in a compound called ketone, which can facilitate weight loss in certain circumstances.
17. Dark chocolate.
Among the ancient Mayan population, it was known as “food of the gods” and was consumed only by people of the highest social classes.
Dark chocolate is a better source of fiber than its amount for milk. This delicious food is obtained from the processing of the seeds of the cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao) and represents an important source of antioxidants.
These are polyphenolic compounds capable of preventing cellular aging processes by counteracting the action of free radicals.
In addition, chocolate is rich in important mineral salts. In particular, the dark one contains excellent quantities of manganese, iron (although not very bioavailable), magnesium, copper, potassium, and phosphorus. Small amounts of B vitamins and vitamin k are also present.
Cocoa has a regulatory action on the cardiovascular system. Helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood.
The bitter variety tends to be considered a natural antidepressant. This beneficial effect appears to be associated with the stimulation of a neurotransmitter known as serotonin.
It is not suitable for gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux, ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome. People with diabetes will also need to be careful, although some pure fudge tablets do not contain sugar.
The high-fiber foods mentioned in this article have always been part of the diet of our ancestors. Over the years, our microbiota has also evolved by feeding on dietary fibers, which are not a source of energy but have other vital functions.
They are all foods rich in fiber that are so good for our health but be careful not to overdo it, or intestinal problems are around the corner. Keep in touch with your doctor to find out what fiber requirements you need.