Over the last few decades, nutrition researchers have discovered the complex role fiber plays in our digestion and overall health, as part of an anti-aging diet.
Fiber is defined as the indigestible component of plants, passing through the small intestine and partially fermenting in the large intestine. We often view fiber as a single dietary component, but it is a varied and complex macronutrient that has been shown in various scientific studies to improve longevity, when consumed at levels of 26-29 grams per day or more, though most North Americans get much less than that. The US National Institutes of Health recommends eating 20-35 grams of fiber each day.
Here are some great high-fiber foods, to ensure you’re reaching the recommended threshold (20-35 grams) of daily fiber:
Vegetables: Vegetables are a significant source of dietary fiber.
- Artichoke, medium = 6.4 g
- Avocado 1/2 medium = 4 g
- Beans, string ½ cup = 1.5 g
- Broccoli ½ cup = 2 g
- Baked potato with skin (2 ½”) = 4 g
- Carrots, cooked or raw ½ cup = 2 g
- Kale, cooked ½ cup = 2.5 g
- Parsnip, cooked ½ cup = 3 g
- Pumpkin, canned ½ cup = 3.5 g
Legumes: Legumes are rockstars in terms of dietary fiber content. They are very versatile and offer an inexpensive way to get more fiber into your diet. A food staple in many cultures, beans and legumes have yet to become a regular part of the North American regimen.
(All values are for cooked legumes)
- Garbanzo beans (chick peas) ½ cup = 3.5 g
- Great Northern beans ½ cup = 8 g
- Kidney beans ½ cup = 4.5 g
- Lima Beans ½ cup = 3.5 g
- Navy Beans ½ cup = 3.1 g
- Romano Beans ½ cup = 7 g
- Apple, unpeeled (medium) = 3 g
- Banana (8 in long) = 1.8 g
- Blackberries ½ cup = 5 g
- Blueberries ½ cup = 2 g
- Figs, 3 dried = 5 g
- Kiwi, 1 medium = 1.5 g
- Pear, unpeeled (medium) = 4.6 g
- Prunes, 5 dried = 3 g
- Raspberries (1/2 cup) = 2.6 g
- Tangerine, 1 medium = 1.5 g
Grains: Grains are an important source of dietary fiber.
- Brown rice, cooked 1 cup = 5 g
- Bulgur wheat ¼ cup = 7 g
- Oat bran cereal, ½ cup cooked = 5 g
- Wheat bran ½ cup = 12 g
- Wheat germ ¼ cup = 4 g
- Whole-grain bread 1 slice = 2-4 g
Nuts and Seeds:
- Almonds, 22 whole = 2.5 g
- Flaxseed 2 tbsp = 4 g
- Peanuts, 30-40 whole = 2 g
- Popcorn, 2 cups popped = 2 g
- Pumpkin seeds, 2 tbsp = 2 g
Fiber supplements: Most nutrition researchers advise people to consume whole foods as their source of nutrients, including fiber. Epidemiologist David Jacobs, co-author of a review of the effect of whole grain consumption on longevity in the Iowa Women’s Health Study, cautions against focusing on individual components, or micronutrients in foods, recommending instead that people eat a variety of fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Go slow at first: If your system isn’t accustomed to a high intake of fiber, you may experience gas and bloating. Go slow and give your body time to adjust. You may also consider a supplement containing digestive enzymes like Beano, which contains alpha-galactosidase that can help your body break down vegetables and beans more readily.
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High-Fiber Foods. National Institutes of Health Medline Public Information Sheet. Accessed April 28, 2012.
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