5 High fibre foods to help lose weight, boost energy and improve digestion

Would you like to give your health a makeover? Make high-fibre foods a part of your daily diet. 

Fibre and your wellbeing

A diet rich in fibre supports the digestive system and helps keep everything running smoothly. But fibre comes with a whole list of other health benefits.

For example, a diet high in fibre can decrease your risk of acquiring heart disease type 2 diabetes, per a meta-analysis found in January 2019 in the journal the Lancet [1]. The research also found a connection between a high-fibre diet and a lower rate of colon cancer.

Furthermore, fibre consumption is linked to a healthier weight, according to the Mayo Clinic and adding more fibre to your diet can help you shed pounds, corresponding to a study included in the Annals of Internal Medicine in February 2015 [2].

What other ways can it help you achieve your health goals? According to the founder of the blog Lively Table, Kaleigh McMordie, RDN, of Lubbock, Texas, the , insoluble fibre adds bulk to food and is not digested, so it increases feelings of fullness and bowel movements [3].

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two main types, insoluble and soluble. Soluble fibre slows digestion, which slows how fast glucose enters the bloodstream, thereby helping to control blood sugar.

Moreover, soluble fibres help prevent diarrhea by bulking up stools and insoluble fibres prevent constipation by relieving constipation symptoms. There are even more benefits associated with fibre.

According to McMordie, research indicates a link between oatmeal, nuts and pulses –foods high in soluble fibre and a lowered breast cancer risk.

Pulses are legumes, which include lentils, chickpeas and beans, according to North Dakota State University [4]. In April 2020, the journal Cancer published a review and meta-analysis of 20 studies [5]. 

Fibre consumption was associated with an 8 per cent lower risk of breast cancer in people who consumed the most of it.

You won’t have to look far for fibre, the National Institutes of Health reports that it’s present in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds [6].

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The health benefits of fibre

It is estimated that nine out of ten Americans and other people around the world do not consume enough fibre and there may be a connection between the problem and bathroom habits. In addition to keeping us regular, fibre also provides a variety of other health benefits. 

Fibre-rich diets have been shown to benefit your immune system, overall health and appearance. Some of the benefits include [7]:

Digestive health

Fibre in the diet bulks up stools and facilitates their passage, thereby normalizing bowel movements. Both constipation and diarrhea can be relieved and prevented by this method. 

Fibre can also reduce your risk of diverticulitis (inflammation of the intestines), hemorrhoids, gallstones, kidney stones and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

A high-fibre diet may also help reduce gastric acid and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) symptoms.

Diabetes

Getting enough fibre in your diet can help reduce type 2 diabetes risk, especially soluble fibre from cereals. Diabetes patients can gain benefit from eating soluble fibre, which slows sugar absorption and improves blood sugar levels [8].

Cancer

There is some evidence to suggest that consuming a high-fibre diet can prevent colorectal cancer. There is also a link between eating high-fibre foods and a lower risk for stomach, mouth and pharynx cancers.

Skin health

When yeast and fungus are released through the skin, they can lead to outbreaks or acne. Eating fibre, such as psyllium husk (a type of plant seed), can help flush toxins from your body, improving your skin’s health.

Heart health

Fibre, particularly soluble fibre, is a vital component of any heart-healthy diet. High-fibre diets can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, improving cholesterol levels. 

Moreover, metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors linked to heart disease, diabetes and stroke, can be reduced.

Fibre can also lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels and reduce belly fat.

How much fibre should you consume for health benefits?

The US Dietary Guidelines set adequate daily intake of fibre at 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men [9].

Most Americans only get half that much, with the average intake clocking in at 15 grams, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time making sure you get your daily fibre intake. In addition to being easy to consume, fibre-rich foods are also delicious, too (avocado toast, anyone?).

“Make at least half of your grains whole and eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily as a starting point,” advises McMordie.

“High-fibre snacks, such as nuts, hummus, high-fibre cereals, or whole-grain crackers, are another good way to get fibre throughout the day,” she says. Here are some fibre-rich foods you can include in your diet [10]:

Avocados

You’re in luck, avocado lovers! The USDA estimates that half an avocado has about 5 grams of fibre, or 18% of your daily value. [11]. 

Avocados are also high in fat, so you’ll want to eat them. “Most of the fat in avocados is monounsaturated fat, the same kind found in olive oil,” explains Jonny Bowden, PhD, of Los Angeles.

You might think of guacamole and avocado toast when you think of avocados, but there are many other ways to use them. “Avocados are nutrient-dense, versatile fruits that can be eaten alone or added to soups, salads and smoothies,” says Marisa Moore, RDN.

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Beans

Among the high-fibre foods, beans are probably first to come to mind – and for good reason. Approximately 25 percent of the Daily Value for fibre is contained in 12 cups of navy beans, according to the USDA [12].

Garbanzos, black beans and pinto beans – all of which are part of the pulse family – are also high in fibre. Beans are high in protein and rich in iron, which can help fight anemia, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics [13]. CMAJ reported in a study that beans may lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol [14].

Salads, soups and salsas can all benefit from adding beans. Bean soups, bean burritos and rice and beans can be the main courses.

Edamame 

Are you craving a snack? Why not try edamame instead of chips? 

It boasts about 5 grams of fibre per 11.2 cups, which is 18 percent of the Daily Value [15]. It contains protein, fibre and healthy fat in one package.

In the March 2020 issue of Circulation, an article detailing findings from three past studies concluded that people who consumed foods with isoflavones, such as tofu or edamame, had a moderately lower risk of heart disease [16].

You can eat edamame straight from the pod as an afternoon snack, serve them alongside sushi or Thai food, or mix them into grain bowls and salads.

Lentils 

Don’t miss out on lentils if you don’t eat them regularly. They are full of fibre and are a fantastic vegetarian source of iron and protein.

Providing 7 grams of fibre in 12 cups of cooked lentils (25 per cent the daily value), lentils are a great addition to burritos, burgers and stuffed peppers [17].

Lentils can be prepared as soups, curries and salads and cook faster than most other pulses – red lentils are ready in around 15 minutes, so they are a great option for some weeknight curry, while green and brown lentils add protein and fibre to soups, stews, or rice pilaf.

These legumes are well-documented for their health benefits. A small study included in the April 2018 edition of Journal of Nutrition found lentils lower blood sugar in 48 people with no diabetes when they swapped it for some of their starchy side (rice) [18].

Raspberries

Harvard notes that berries contain antioxidants that may prevent inflammation, as well as fibre [19]. Why are raspberries so special? They have a high fibre content. 

Moore recommends raspberries and blackberries as high-fibre fruits. According to the USDA, they contain about 8 grams of fibre per cup, which is about 28 per cent of the daily value [20].

Smoothies and snacks are enhanced with their sweet-tart flavor, so add them to yogurt for a fibre-and protein-rich breakfast.

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[1] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31809-9/fulltext
[2] https://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2118594/single-component-versus-multicomponent-dietary-goals-metabolic-syndrome-randomized-trial
[3] https://livelytable.com/
[4] https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/pulses-the-perfect-food-healthy-to-eat-healthy-to-grow-peas-lentils-chickpeas
[5] https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cncr.32816
[6] https://medlineplus.gov/dietaryfiber.html
[7] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/high-fiber-foods.htm
[8] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/the-diabetes-diet.htm
[9] https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf
[10] https://www.everydayhealth.com/photogallery/fiber-rich-foods.aspx|
[11] https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/786651/nutrients
[12] https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/538387/nutrients
[13] https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/iron-deficiency
[14] https://www.cmaj.ca/content/186/8/E252
[15] https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/542288/nutrients
[16] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.041306
[17] https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/784289/nutrients
[18] https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/148/4/535/4965930
[19] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/berry-good-for-health
[20] https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167755/nutrients

Photograph: Tatjana Baibakova/Shutterstock
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