High Fiber Foods: Fiber-rich foods keep you full for a long time, ensure healthy digestion, and can prevent diseases. Find out how much fiber you should have per day, which foods contain the most, and what you should consider when eating them.
Everyone needs fiber in sufficient quantities every day – even if the name doesn’t exactly suggest it. According to Doctors adults consume at least 30 grams of fiber per day. But many people don’t get these amounts, as the National Consumption Study II has shown.
Women only eat around 23 grams of fiber daily, while men eat around 25 grams. This means that around 75% of women and 68% of men do not achieve the recommended value for fiber intake.
Men and women get most of their dietary fiber from bread, fruit and fruit products, vegetables, mushrooms, and legumes. Vegetable dishes, potatoes, and cereals play a smaller role in both sexes.
The dietary fiber intake could easily be increased in everyday life – if you know which foods contain a particularly large amount of indigestible plant fibers.
High-fiber foods – which ones contain the most?
Of the 30 grams of fiber per day, you should get about half from eating grain products and the other half from fruits and vegetables. In the following table from the “Nutrition Docs” (NDR), you will find the top 30 foods that contain a lot of fiber. The information shows how many grams of dietary fiber are contained in 100 grams of the food.
Top 30 High Fiber Foods
- Psyllium Husks: 84 g
- Wheat bran: 45.1 g
- Chia seeds: 40 g
- Flaxseed: 35 g
- Oat bran flakes: 19 g
- Salsify, fresh: 18.3 g
- Oat bran: 15 g
- Coconut flakes: 15 g
- Pear, dried: 13.5 g
- Jerusalem artichoke, fresh: 12.5 g
- Mango, dried: 12 g
- Peanut kernels: 11.7 g
- Sesame seeds: 11.2 g
- Artichoke – fresh, cooked: 10.8 g
- Apple, dried: 10.7 g
- Amaranth: 10.3 g
- Rolled oats, tender: 10.0 g
- Rolled oats, pithy: 10.0 g
- Pumpernickel: 10.0 g
- Popcorn, unsweetened: 10.0 g
- Wholemeal rye bread: 9.2 g
- Macadamia nuts: 9.0 g
- Spelled flakes: 8.4 g
- Wholemeal spelled bread: 8.3 g
- Hazelnuts: 8.2 g
- Prunes, dried: 8.0 g
- Apricots, dried: 8.0 g
- Chickpeas (can): 7.7 g
- Pistachios: 7.6 g
- Kidney beans (can): 7.6 g
The 2 types of fiber – soluble and insoluble
Nutrition experts distinguish 2 different types of dietary fiber:
- Soluble fiber plays an important role in protecting against diet-related diseases. Fruit and vegetables contain a lot of it. They are broken down in the large intestine into short-chain fatty acids and gases and, by binding water, ensure a short intestinal passage and soft stools.
- Insoluble fiber can bind more water and swell more. They particularly promote digestion. The most important representatives of this group are cellulose and lignin. They are found in larger amounts in cereals and legumes.
What are the positive effects of dietary fiber?
The plant fibers reach the large intestine undigested. They can have a number of positive effects on health. Some examples:
- The faster feeling of satiety:
Fiber increases the volume of a meal, stretches the stomach, and thus ensures that the body releases satiety hormones. Because the plant fibers have a satiating effect, they can help you lose weight.
- Good for cholesterol levels:
dietary fiber binds bile acids and thus removes the cholesterol contained there from the body. The organism has to form new bile acids again and uses existing cholesterol for this – the cholesterol level drops.
- Lower blood pressure and protect the heart:
Fiber causes the gut bacteria to produce more propionic acid (a fatty acid). This dampens the activity of special immune cells that increase blood pressure. High consumption of fiber can protect the heart and blood vessels. Heart diseases such as the common coronary heart disease (CHD) have fewer chances.
- Supporting intestinal health:
Intestinal bacteria need soluble fiber as “feed” for their metabolism. They are broken down into short-chain fatty acids and are important energy suppliers for the cells in the large intestine. In addition, fiber binds to water in the intestine and increases the volume of the stool. This stimulates intestinal activity and promotes bowel movements – the risk of constipation decreases.
- Protection against type 2 diabetes:
Dietary fiber can improve the cells’ sensitivity to insulin. The hormone insulin gets into the cells more easily again and the blood sugar level drops.
Dietary fiber – this is how you get the recommended amount
However, these values for the fiber amounts should only serve as a guide, because nobody is likely to consume 100 grams of coconut flakes a day. Many types of fruit and vegetables also contain enough dietary fiber. Examples:
- Vegetables: Peppers, Brussels sprouts, corn, potatoes, mushrooms, nuts, legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
- Fruits: berries (e.g. raspberries, black currants), kiwi.
It is important to combine these in a variety of ways and not just look at the number of grams of dietary fiber. Seeds and flakes are good ingredients for muesli, porridge, or salad, for example. Getting the right amount of fiber is not that difficult in everyday life. The easiest way is to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.
- Choose whole grain bread, pasta, and rice.
- Eat 3 servings of fiber-rich vegetables per day – including legumes.
- Consume 2 servings of fruit daily.
For example, meals that give you 30 grams of fiber per day might look like this:
- 3 slices of wholemeal bread
- 1 serving of fruit muesli
- 2-3 medium potatoes
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 kohlrabi
- 1 apple
- 1 serving of red fruit jelly
Incidentally, some foods contain little or no fiber at all.
- Animal products such as eggs, meat, sausage, fish, milk, and milk products
- Some vegetables and fruits that contain a lot of water, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, or melons
- Nibbles like chips, peanut chips
Eating high-fiber foods – this is how it works
Not every digestive tract tolerates it when the amount of fiber is suddenly increased. Therefore there are some tips:
- If you have been eating a rather low-fiber diet up to now, you should not consume large amounts of fiber overnight. The intestines first have to get used to them, otherwise, there is a risk of digestive problems such as flatulence or abdominal pain.
- Slowly increase the fiber content of your diet. Start with cooked vegetables and vegetable soups, which are easier to digest. Then eat raw vegetables, such as grated vegetables or vegetable sticks.
- Legumes are not well tolerated by some. For example, eat peeled yellow or red lentils first.
- Substitute products made from white flour for those made with darker flours and finally whole wheat flour. Always choose whole grain bread, rolls, and other baked goods.
- Drink enough every day, because fiber needs water to swell. About 1.5 to 2 liters of liquid per day are advisable, preferably water or unsweetened tea.
- Chew high-fiber foods well and take your time eating. When you wolf down your food in large chunks, the stomach and intestines have a lot more to do with digestion than when the food arrives well chopped up.