Fiber serves many purposes for the body. It helps to regulate blood sugar, it prevents the absorption of cholesterol, and promotes gut health and regularity. All of these benefits are especially helpful for individuals with diabetes as it is crucial for them to control blood sugar, as well as, heart health.
Without fiber, our digestive tract suffers, we develop high cholesterol that may lead to heart disease, and inflammation may increase in the body. Fiber also lowers blood sugar naturally by slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Here’s a great article on especially why diabetics need more fiber…
Even with all of these benefits, the vast majority of Americans get less than half of the daily recommended 25 and 35 grams of fiber. That’s right, less than half! While 25 to 35 grams of fiber every day may seem intimidating, there are a ton of delicious fiber-filled foods out there waiting for you!
Artichokes – Low in calories, rich in fiber and essential nutrients, artichokes are a great addition to your diet. Just one medium artichoke accounts for nearly half of the recommend daily fiber intake for women, and a third for men.
Avocado – One cup of avocado has more than 15 grams of fiber, plus an abundance of heart-healthy omega-3 fats! Avocado can be used in endless, delicious ways. Rather than putting chicken salad on a bun, put it inside one half of an avocado. Instead of mayonnaise on your turkey sandwich, try mashed avocado. Instead of cheese on your hamburger, try avocado slices.
In fact, avocado toast has been trending lately as a brunch favorite. Whole wheat toast with the heart-healthy fat and fiber of the avocado helps to slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. As guacamole, sliced and served with eggs, or eaten from a spoon, avocado is a delicious, nutritious food you can feel great about eating.
Beans and Lentils – One cup of cooked red kidney beans contains 13 grams of fiber, a cup of black beans has 15 grams of fiber, and white beans contain over 18 grams per cup. In addition to their high fiber content, beans, as well as lentils (which are composed of 40% fiber), contain a starch that is more slowly absorbed into the bloodstream, helping to keep blood sugar stable.
The starch found in beans and nuts can be a great alternative to white flour in some baked goods. Chickpea, almond, and coconut flours are lower in carbs and higher in protein and fiber than traditional white flour.
Broccoli – One cup of steamed broccoli contains nearly 5 grams of fiber. Plus, this cruciferous green veggie is rich in folate, potassium, and vitamins C & K. Believe it or not, that same cup of broccoli also contains nearly 3 grams of protein. Protein in a vegetable!
Fresh berries – Loaded with fiber and antioxidants, raspberries and blackberries top the list with more than 7 grams of fiber per cup. Blueberries are also a great source of vitamins and soluble fiber. Studies have found that glucose levels reduce over time when blueberries are included in one’s diet. In fact, one study by the USDA, consuming 2 ½ cups of fresh blueberry juice per day lowered blood glucose levels, improved depression symptoms, and sharpened memory.
Nuts – An easy, convenient way to quickly increase your fiber intake. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, all delicious little jewels of nutrition. Almonds are lower in calories and fats and are higher in potassium and protein. Research has shown that walnuts improve many cognitive functions like reasoning and memory, and have been known to boost mood!
Air-popped fresh popcorn – Make sure you air-pop your popcorn fresh; no preservative-filled bags from the supermarket allowed! Drizzle with olive oil (or indulge with a bit of truffle oil), add some dried herbs, or simply sprinkle with salt and pepper. Three cups of air-popped popcorn contains more than 3 grams of fiber, while being cholesterol-free, and low in calories. It’s also low-glycemic, making it a great snack option for diabetics.
Quinoa – A wide variety of grains contain fiber, but few pack as nutritious a punch as quinoa. Quinoa is easy to digest and gluten-free, while being high in other essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B-6, potassium and magnesium.
Public Service Announcement: while it is true that these high-fiber foods are good for you they can also give you gas, along with intestinal cramping or bloating. Don’t take on too much at once and gradually introduce more fiber to your diet over time.
There truly isn’t much that fiber cannot improve when it comes to health. Use these tasty and nutritious foods to add more fiber to your diet, and start reaping the benefits!