5 Good reasons why you need fiber in your diet (plus tips for eating more)
08/04/2020 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
5 Good reasons why you need fiber in your diet (plus tips for eating more)

Nutrition experts recommend eating fiber-rich foods as part of your diet for a good reason. Besides helping maintain optimal gut health, fiber also helps prevent all sorts of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer.

The health benefits of fiber

Not eating enough fiber? You’re missing out on a number of important benefits.

Fiber is the component of plant-based foods like grains, fruits and legumes that’s hard to digest. This nutrient passes through our colon, taking toxins, undigested food bits, cholesterol and carcinogens with it as it exits our bodies.

This process helps keep our colon clean and free from harmful microbes and biological agents that can cause infection and disease. For the most part, insoluble fiber is the fiber responsible for this action.

Soluble fiber, on the other hand, helps inhibit the absorption of glucose in the gut, thus protecting against cardiometabolic conditions. Together, these soluble and insoluble fiber promote optimal health.

If consumed as part of a balanced diet, foods rich in dietary fiber can protect us from a host of diseases and their related health complications. Here is a quick run-through of the reported health benefits of eating fiber-rich foods as part of a balanced diet:

Protects against bloating and constipation

Besides aiding in digestion, fiber also helps make it easier to pass stool. For this reason, inadequate fiber intake often results in common gastrointestinal issues like bloating and constipation.

Promotes optimal heart health

Foods rich in soluble fiber, such as beans, nuts, berries and citrus fruits, help reduce the risk of heart disease and related cardiometabolic conditions.

Studies show that eating a high-fiber diet can help reduce bad cholesterol in the blood. Bad LDL cholesterol is responsible for clogging the arteries and raising the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Soluble fiber also aids in regulating blood pressure, another indicator of heart health. In addition, fiber helps reduce excess abdominal fat, which can raise blood pressure.

Supports diabetes management

There’s a reason why anti-diabetes diets often feature legumes like lentils, beans and peas. These foods all have one thing in common: fiber.

Besides regulating blood sugar, fiber-rich foods can help you fee full and satisfied for longer periods. Over time, regular consumption of fiber-rich foods can lead to reductions in abdominal fat, a major risk factor for diabetes.

Fights colon cancer

Recent studies have found that adopting a high-fiber diet helps reduce the risk of colon cancer. For instance, a team of Irish researchers found that high fiber intake is linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer among healthy human subjects.

Another recent study looked at the dietary habits of more than 500,000 participants across 10 countries and found that adequate fiber intake led to a 42 percent reduction in colon cancer risk.

Reduces breast cancer risk

In 2016, Harvard researchers found that high fiber intake during adolescence and adulthood corresponded to significant reductions in breast cancer risk before menopause.

Best fiber-rich foods

Fiber is present in a lot of plant-based foods, but some foods contain higher amounts of fiber than others. If you’re looking to up your fiber consumption, take a look at this list of fiber-rich foods and their corresponding fiber content.


  1. Raspberries – 8 grams (g) per cup
  2. Pear – 5.5 g
  3. Apple – 4.5 g
  4. Banana – 3 g
  5. Orange – 3 g


  1. Green peas – 9 g per cup
  2. Broccoli – 5 g per cup
  3. Turnip greens – 5 g per cup
  4. Potato – 4 g
  5. Carrot – 1.5 g


  1. Barley – 6 g per cup
  2. Rye bread – 2 g per slice
  3. Quinoa – 5 g per cup
  4. Brown rice – 3.5 g per cup
  5. Whole-wheat bread – 2 g per slice

Legumes, nuts and seeds

  1. Lentils – 15.5 g per cup
  2. Black beans – 15 g per cup
  3. Chia seeds – 10 g per ounce
  4. Almonds – 3.5 per ounce
  5. Pistachios – 3 g per ounce

Take note that the recommended fiber intake varies from person to person depending on factors like age and gender. That said, women should aim to eat at least 21 to 25 g of fiber per day. Men, on the other hand, should consume at least 30 to 38 g a day.

Tips for increasing fiber intake

According to experts, most of us aren’t eating half the amount of fiber our bodies need for optimal health. But for some people, increasing their fiber intake or eating fiber-rich foods on a regular basis is easier said than done.

But it’s not a lost cause. Here are some simple and doable tips that can make it easier to transition to a diet that ensures adequate fiber intake:

  1. Eat whole grains for breakfast – For a filling and nutritious breakfast, choose a high-fiber, whole grain cereal or oatmeal (not the instant ones). Besides jumpstarting digestion, a fiber-rich breakfast can also keep you from overeating later in the day.
  2. Switch to whole grains – Foods like white bread, white rice and store-bought pasta are made from refined grains. This means that most of the nutrients, including fiber, iron and B vitamins, have been stripped from the grains themselves. Whole grains, on the other hand, are those that still contain the entire grain kernel, which hold most of its nutrients.
  3. Use whole grain flour for baking – Yes, even flour can be made from refined grains, and using this kind of flour for baking results in homemade pastries that are just as devoid of nutrients as store-bought ones.
  4. Add seeds to yogurt and oatmeal – Healthful seeds like chia seeds and flaxseeds are perfect for sprinkling over yogurt, oatmeal and thick soups. Rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, seeds can help reduce total blood cholesterol.
  5. Snack on fruits and vegetables – Don’t just focus on the three most important meals of the day. Make snack time count, too, by munching on vegetable sticks and fruit slices instead of potato chips and other junk foods. Alternatively, you can snack on nuts or whole grain crackers.
  6. Eat fruits for dessert – Eat a banana, apple slices or an entire orange at the end of a meal to close it on a healthier note. You can also add fresh fruit chunks to yogurt for a healthier, gut-friendly dessert.
  7. Eat the entire fruit – Juicing is great for getting concentrated amounts of a fruit’s nutrients, but it also gets rid of the fiber-rich pulp in the process. Make sure to eat entire fruits from time to time instead of just juicing them, to get the most fiber.
  8. Eat the skin – Pears and apples contain fiber in their skins. So after a good rinse,go right ahead and chop them up.
  9. Add vegetables to soups – Besides infusing your soup with essential vitamins and minerals, tossing in more vegetables also helps increase its fiber content.
  10. Cook beans and lentils as a side dish – Not a big fan of legumes? Just cook small portions as side dishes or toss them into a classic green salad. You won’t even notice the difference.

Fiber is essential for optimal health. Besides supporting digestion, it also helps minimize the risk of chronic conditions.

That being said, take care not to eat too much fiber as it can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Instead, make small, manageable changes like eating fruits for dessert or having whole grain oatmeal for breakfast.

Besides being a lot easier to maintain, making small changes over a period of time is also great for the good bacteria in our gut.







100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Related Articles
comments powered by Disqus

100% Fresh Food News, Right at Your Fingertips!
Find out everything you need to know about clean and healthy eating when you sign up for our FREE email newsletter. Receive the latest news on all the top superfoods, recipes, natural remedies, diets, food tips, and more!
Your privacy is protected. Subscription confirmation required.

Popular articles