When it comes to a healthy diet, fiber is one of the most important nutrients to focus on. Fiber promotes digestion, helps you feel full for longer, and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. However, many Americans fall short of the recommended daily fiber intake of 25-30 grams per day. High-fiber carbs are one easy way to up your fiber without thinking too hard about it. They add bulk to your diet without a lot of calories. Here are 11 delicious high-fiber carbohydrate foods you should be enjoying:
OatmealThis whole grain breakfast food is loaded with fiber. A single serving of plain oats provides about 4 grams of fiber. However, different types of oats provide different amounts. Rolled oats contain a little less than instant or quick cooking oats. Aim for 1/2 cup of dry oats for breakfast to boost your morning fiber intake. If you want to increase the fiber even more, add seeds, nuts, or dried fruit to your oatmeal. Some excellent topping options high in fiber include ground flaxseed, chia seeds, wheat bran, slivered almonds, and raisins. Be sure to use whole grain oats for the highest fiber benefit.
BeansBeans pack a hefty amount of filling fiber into each serving. A half cup of cooked beans provides around 7-8 grams of fiber, making beans one of the highest fiber foods you can eat. Kidney, black, pinto, white, and garbanzo beans are all excellent choices. Beans also provide a hearty serving of protein, vitamins, and minerals. For maximum convenience, keep canned beans stocked in your pantry. For extra flavor and nutrition, try homemade beans soups, stews, and chili made with a variety of beans. Edamame, or green soybeans, are another tasty high-fiber bean option.
LentilsSimilar to beans, lentils provide a lot of fiber in a small package. Lentils come in green, red, brown, and black varieties. A half cup of cooked lentils packs about 8 grams of fiber. Lentils cook up quickly in only 20-30 minutes, making them a fast and easy option for fiber-rich soups, stews, and side dishes. Lentils come in convenient canned forms as well. Their earthy flavor and texture absorbs other flavors beautifully and pair well with cuisines from around the world such as Indian dal, Mediterranean soups, and Latin inspired dishes. Lentils are also very affordable and environmentally sustainable.
AvocadoAvocados have earned a reputation as a healthy fat, but their fiber content should not be overlooked either. Although high in fat, avocados provide nearly 14 grams of fiber per cup, making them one of the highest fiber whole foods around. Their rich, creamy texture pairs well with all kinds of sandwiches, salads, Mexican dishes, and snacks. When shopping for avocados, choose ones that yield to gentle pressure when squeezed—they should not be too hard or soft and avoid ones with bruises or damaged skins. Ripe avocados should keep on the counter for a few days or stored in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Halve, seed, peel and enjoy!
BroccoliBright green broccoli is loaded with essential nutrients like vitamins C and K as well as fiber, providing approximately 2 grams per cooked cup. Broccoli makes a flavorful addition to all kinds of dishes from stir fries and pastas to casseroles and salads. There are a few different ways you can enjoy this cruciferous veggie. For maximum nutrition and crunch, eat it raw by cutting florets into sticks or enjoying broccoli slaw. Or lightly steam or sauté broccoli just until bright green and crisp-tender for a tasty side. Roasting broccoli brings out its natural sweetness—toss florets with a little olive oil and roast at 400F until browned. Frozen broccoli is also a budget-friendly option that is just as nutritious as fresh.
BerriesBerries provide some fiber while packing a big antioxidant punch. Strawberries contain about 3 grams of fiber per cup while blueberries deliver about 4 grams per cup. Raspberries and blackberries are also excellent fiber-rich berry choices. The small seeds of berries provide the bulk of their fiber content. Berries make for a colorful and refreshing snack that can satisfy a sweet tooth in a healthy way. Throw washed berries into plain yogurt or oatmeal, blend them into smoothies, or top waffles, pancakes and cereal with fresh berries for extra nutrients. Frozen berries work great too in baked goods, pancakes or just plain eaten as a snack.
ApplesAn average apple contains about 4 grams of fiber, making them one of the most fiber-rich single-serving fruits around. Apples come in all kinds of varieties to suit any taste bud—from sweet Galas and Honeycrisps to tangy Granny Smith. Apples are incredibly convenient and portable, making them a simple grab-and-go snack perfect for work, school, or travel. Their fiber helps keep you feeling satisfied for hours between meals. For more variety, core apples and slice or dice them up to add to salads, oatmeal, or as a snack with nut or seed butter. Apples can also be baked into pies, crisps or compotes.
Orange sweet potatoes boast almost 4 grams of fiber per medium baked potato, which is twice as much as a regular white potato. Full of vitamin A and antioxidants, these sweet spuds add both flavor and nutrients to any meal. Bake sweet potatoes whole in their jackets for an easy, hands-off side. Or cut into cubes and roast like fries for a healthier twist. For breakfast, slice sweet potato rounds and griddle or bake. Their natural sweetness purees into creamy soups and allows them to stand in for regular white potatoes in gratins and casseroles. The deep orange flesh lets you know you're getting extra beta-carotene with each bite.
Whole grains like brown rice, oats, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa and barley provide a hefty boost of fiber. A mere 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice delivers about 2 grams, the same amount provided in a slice of whole wheat bread. The fiber benefits come from the whole intact grain, which includes both the bran and germ parts that get stripped away in refined grains. Go for whole grain varieties whenever possible for maximum nutritional returns. Try using brown rice instead of white, choose whole grain versions of cereals, breads and pastas. Quinoa cooks up fluffy like a grain but is actually a seed with about 5 grams fiber per cup.
Nuts & Nut Butters
Tree nuts and peanuts are not only delicious but high in fiber as well. A 1/4 cup of nuts provides around 3 grams of fiber on average. Walnuts, almonds and pistachios are all great high-fiber nut choices. Nut butters are also fiber powerhouses since they retain most of the nutrition from whole nuts. All-natural peanut butter made only from peanuts provides around 3 grams per 2 tablespoon serving. Almond and cashew butter provide a similar amount. Enjoy a small handful of nuts as a snack or add nut butters to smoothies, oatmeal, sauces and baked goods for extra nutrition. A few nuts go a long way to filling you up while boosting satiety.
Dark leafy greens like kale and collards as well as cruciferous veggies like broccoli provide useful amounts of fiber, around 2 grams per cooked cup. Other fibrous veggie choices that can help you meet daily intake goals include: artichokes, brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, green beans, pumpkin, winter squash, zucchini and celery. Steam, roast or sauté veggies for best nutrient retention.
Adding fiber-rich veggies to soups, salads, casseroles and as sides helps you get your recommended servings easily without having to think about it much. Their volume fills you up and contains few calories. Fresh or frozen work equally well.
Getting fiber shouldn't feel like a chore. By making these high-fiber carbs staples in your diet, you can boost your fiber intake without really trying too hard. Enjoy them often for better digestive, heart and overall health. Eating a variety of fibrous veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is ideal.
Just be sure to get your water intake too, since fiber works best when hydrated. Don't forget to start slow if increasing fiber intake, as too much too soon can cause GI discomfort like gas, bloating or cramping until you adjust. But these tasty carbs make increasing fiber both easy and enjoyable in the long run