Dietary fiber is an outstandingly healthy nutrient that can help you improve your digestive health and that may even prevent certain illnesses. The trick sometimes can be getting enough fiber each day. For Americans over 50, the recommendation is about 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women. That can seem like a lot to consume in a single day, especially if you normally don’t get a ton of fiber in your diet naturally. While fiber supplements are an option if you need them, it’s better to try to meet your fiber intake goal through your diet first. How can you achieve this without overeating and ruining your diet?
Here are five healthy foods that are loaded with dietary fiber!
Split peas are the seeds of a field pea plant that have been dried and split in half. These legumes are low in fat, but high in protein, folate, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Most importantly, their fiber count is through the roof. Depending on how you cook them, a cup of split peas can give you anywhere from 16 grams of fiber for boiled to 50 grams of fiber for raw split peas. While you’re unlikely to ever eat a cup of split peas in one sitting, it’s worth keeping in mind that even half a cup of cooked split peas is over a quarter of the daily recommendation for men and almost 40 percent of that for women. For roughly 115 calories per half cup cooked, that’s not too bad.
Split peas are pretty easy to add to your diet. Of course, you have the classic split pea soup, but you can also enjoy them in a salad, roasted in crunchy snacks, or simply boiled and as a side to your main dish.
Often compared and confused with split peas, lentils are legumes that have been harvested as seeds and then dried. Similarly to split peas, a cup of raw lentils has more than enough fiber for your daily recommendation at 58.6 grams. There are about 15.6 grams of fiber in a cup of boiled lentils. Lentils tend to be even higher than their split cousins in folate, thiamin, and protein while also being great sources for iron, potassium, phosphorous, and manganese. They also basically have the same number of calories as split peas!
Lentils are a very versatile ingredient to work with, lending themselves to a number of different recipes. You can add them to soups, salads, and even curries. If you’re a vegetarian, the high protein count in lentils make them an excellent meat substitute.
You’ve probably seen a recipe boasting chia seeds in some healthy restaurant or cookbook before; they do this for a reason. Chia seeds can be pretty healthy for you. Made from the Salvia hispanica, a desert plant, chia seeds boast a wide range of health benefits. For our purposes, a serving of chia seeds (one ounce) has 10.6 grams of fiber! That may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind that chia seeds are very small and a cup of them would have around 80 grams of fiber. So, while you likely wouldn’t eat an entire cup of chia seeds (which would be nearly 1,000 calories!), the amount you do eat packs in the fiber.
Chia seeds are commonly added into smoothies to give a bit of texture and body to the smoothie (as well as a health boost). They’ve also been used to make puddings, snack bars, and breads. You can always just add them raw to a dish for some extra crunch.
Raspberries are one of our favorite fruits to snack on. Their sweetness is perfectly balanced by their tart punch, and they’re easy to eat on the go. Raspberries are also low in calories and fat, but high in antioxidants and many other vitamins and nutrients. Of course, one of these nutrients is dietary fiber. A cup of raspberries contains around eight grams of fiber. While this is about half of what you’d find the in the prepared versions of split peas and lentils, it’s also got around a quarter of the calories, meaning you can have more for a healthy snack!
Raspberries are one of those fruits you don’t have to do much to for them to be delicious. Simply wash them off and eat them raw. Besides that, there’s not much you can’t do with raspberries. We’ve used them to make a delicious sorbet before, but you can also make raspberry crisp, raspberry muffins, and even raspberry sauce.
We’ve previously identified artichokes as a vegetable worth trying out, so you’ll be familiar with just how healthy they can be. While they’re certainly high in folate, antioxidants, and other nutrients, our focus is on fiber — and artichokes have plenty of it. In fact, one cooked artichoke has around 10 grams of fiber. Taking into consideration it only has a total of 63 calories, eating an artichoke seems like a pretty efficient way to get in your fiber without gaining weight!
We’ve already addressed this a little in our “Seasonal Picks: 3 Foods You Should Try This Spring” article, but once you’ve gotten them ready, you can boil or steam them for a really healthy treat. You can also bake and stuff them or use them to make a tasty dip, if you want to add a few calories. Our favorite way, though, is to deep fry them in a classic Roman Jewish recipe called “Carciofi all Giudia.”
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These aren’t the only foods that are rich in fiber. For example, switch out your white bread or pasta for the whole grain version for a sizable bump in fiber contents. Popcorn, oatmeal, and dark chocolate are also surprisingly high in dietary fiber. The important thing to remember is that there are many different healthy sources of fiber out there. Getting enough of it just takes a little research, planning, and creativity!