Fibers: Foods High in Fiber?

Fibers

Dietary fiber is not digested by our body. The fibers have an effective appetite suppressant effect and facilitate transit. But, then, where to find the fibers and what are their benefits? Focus on fibers.

Fiber, what is it?

Dietary fiber represents the carbohydrates and lignin that occur naturally in plant foods and are not digested and absorbed by the digestive system.

Functional fibers

There is also another type of fiber called functional fiber which is actually carbohydrates that have been isolated, extracted and/or purified.

To be part of the range of functional fibers, they must have beneficial effects on the body. Functional fibers are not absorbed or digested by the digestive system in the same way as dietary fibers.

The role of fibers

Fiber has different physiological roles to play including regulating gastrointestinal function, lowering cholesterol levels and managing glycemia (blood sugar levels).

They also contribute to the feeling of satiety, which can help with weight management by reducing energy intake. There are many, but not all, studies that claim adequate fiber intake protects against colon cancer.

There are two types of fiber in plant foods:

  • Soluble (viscous) fibers have the property of reducing blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
  • insoluble fiber increases fecal volume to regulate bowel function.

Most plant foods contain both types of fiber. However, the amount of each type of fiber varies between foods.

Foods Predominantly Insoluble Fiber Soluble Fiber Predominant Foods
Wheat bran and wheat cereals Psyllium and fortified cereals
Whole grains and derivatives Oat bran and oat cereal (oatmeal)
Vegetables: cauliflower, kale, green peas, spinach, turnip, green beans Legumes: kidney beans, peas
Fruits: raspberries, apple, pear, banana, blueberries, strawberries Fruits: orange, grapefruit, mango, dried prunes
Nuts and seeds: almonds, peanuts Vegetables: asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots, onion
Legumes in general Barley

Daily fiber requirements

Total fiber requirements have been established based on an intake which, according to scientific data, is protective against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Age Adequate intake (AI)
Babies 0 – 6 months n/a
Babies 7 – 12 months n/a
Babies 1 – 3 years old 19g
Children 4-8 years old 25g
Boys 9 – 13 years old 31g
Girls 9 – 13 years old 26g
Boys 14 – 18 years old 38g
Girl 14 – 18 years old 26g
Men 19 – 50 years old 38g
Women 19 – 50 years old 25g
Men 50 and over 30g
Women 50 and over 21g
Pregnant women 28g
Nursing women 29g

*Recommended nutritional intake
**AMT: tolerable upper intake

Food sources of fiber

The main sources of fiber are vegetables and fruits as well as grain products, legumes and nuts.

Food Servings Quantities (g)
Cooked legumes 250 ml (1 cup) 12 – 17
Breakfast cereals, 100% wheat bran 30g (1oz) 10
Soy beans, fresh (edamame), boiled 250 ml (1 cup) 8
Raspberries 125 ml (1/2 cup) 4-6
Boiled artichoke 1 medium (120g) 5
Dried prunes, cooked 75 ml pitted (80 g) 5
Pear with peel 1 medium (166g) 5
Green peas, cooked 125 ml (1/2 cup) 4-5
blackberries 125 ml (1/2 cup) 4
canned pumpkin 125 ml (1/2 cup) 4
Dates or dried figs 60 ml (1/4 cup) 4
Potato with skin, baked 1 medium (150g) 4
Boiled spinach 125 ml (1/2 cup) 4
Almonds roasted in oil or dry 60 ml (1/4 cup) 4
Boiled sweet potato 1 medium (151g) 4
Apple with peel 1 medium (138g) 3
Winter squash, cooked 125 ml (1/2 cup) 3
Papaya 1/2 fruit (153g) 3
Brussels sprouts, cooked 4 cabbages (84g) 3
blueberries 125 ml (1/2 cup) 2-3

Tips for increasing your fiber intake 

  • Replace refined grain products with brown rice, pasta or bread made with whole grains;
  • consume more fruits containing fiber: apples and pears with their peel, raspberries and blackberries, dried fruits (prunes, apricots and dates);
  • choose fiber-rich vegetables more often: artichokes, peas, beets, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, corn, turnips, potatoes with the skin on;
  • eat more often legumes, excellent sources of dietary fibre: white or red beans, lentils, lima beans, chickpeas;
  • add lentils or beans to soups, casseroles and salads. Cook a vegetarian chili;
  • spread hummus on a slice of whole-grain bread or high-fiber crackers as a snack;
  • as a snack, choose cereals rich in fiber (4 g of fiber per serving and read) or a homemade muffin rich in fiber;
  • when making muffin recipes, replace white flour with whole wheat flour. Add ground flax seeds or wheat or oat bran;
  • add wheat or oat bran, flax or chia seeds to your yogurts and compotes;
  • add soybeans to soups, stir-fries or salads;
  • as a snack, eat a small handful of dried fruit and nuts;
  • read food labels and choose breads, bagels, pitas, tortillas and crackers that contain 2-4 g of fiber per serving.

It is very important to increase your fiber intake gradually and to drink plenty of water to avoid certain gastrointestinal symptoms.

Potential fiber interactions

A very high fiber intake could interfere with the absorption of various nutrients including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.

However, when there is no deficiency of these nutrients in the diet, adequate fiber intake does not appear to compromise the stores of these nutrients.

Fiber deficiency and excess

Fiber deficiency

Since fiber is not an essential nutrient, a low intake does not bring on symptoms of deficiency. However, insufficient fiber intake can lead to constipation due to low fecal volume.

Excess fiber

Excessive fiber intake has no deleterious effect apart from certain gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating or gas. Overuse is very unlikely.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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