Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

High-Fiber Diet

What Is It?

Fiber can't be digested by humans. All plants have it, such as fruits, veggies, grains, and beans and peas. It is often put into two types:

Why Should I Eat This Way? ^

You may be told to eat this way so you don't get constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and colon cancer.

Eating like this can also help your cholesterol levels, lower your risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, and lower your weight. For people with type 1 or 2 diabetes, it can also help steady blood sugar levels.

How Much Should I Eat? ^

You should eat 20-35 grams a day. Most people eat only 15 grams per day.

Start Off Slow ^

It can take your body time to get used to eating more of these foods. If you don't start off slow, you may have gas, cramping, belly swelling, and loose stools. Add these foods slowly. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids each day.

Tips to Eat More ^

Foods You Should Eat ^

Food Type List of Foods Notes
Grains
  • Whole-grain breads, muffins, bagels, or pita bread
  • Rye bread
  • Whole-wheat crackers or crisp breads
  • Whole-grain or bran cereals
  • Oatmeal, oat bran, or grits
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole-wheat pasta and brown rice
  • Read food labels. Look for products that list "whole" as the first item (whole-wheat, whole oats).
  • Choose cereals with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.
Veggies
  • All veggies, such as asparagus, bean sprouts, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, greens, green beans, green pepper, onions, peas, potatoes (with skin), snow peas, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini
  • Eat the peels of fruits and veggies—just be sure to wash them well first.
Fruits
  • All fruits, such as apples, berries, grapefruits, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, dried fruits (figs, dates, prunes, raisins)
  • Choose raw fruits and veggies over juice, cooked, or canned. Dried fruit is also a good source.
Milk
  • Dairy foods have little fiber. Yogurt with inulin has it, though.
  • Add more by topping your yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh fruit, whole grain or bran cereals, nuts, or seeds.
Meats and Beans
  • All beans and peas, such as garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, split peas, and pinto beans
  • All nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, peanut butter, walnuts, sesame and sunflower seeds
  • All meat, poultry, fish, and eggs
  • Add pinto beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, bran, or oatmeal to meat dishes.
  • If you are on a low-fat diet, limit nuts and seeds.
Fats and Oils
  • Limit
  • Fats and oils do not have fiber.
Snacks, Sweets, and Condiments
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn, whole-wheat pretzels, or trail mix made with dried fruits, nuts, and seeds
  • Cakes, breads, and cookies made with oatmeal or whole-wheat flour
  • Most snack foods do not provide much fiber. Choose snacks with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.
RESOURCES:

Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
http://www.eatright.org

Nutrition.gov—US Department of Agriculture
http://www.nutrition.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Dietary, functional, and total fiber. National Institute of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10490&page=339. Accessed October 4, 2018.

Fiber. The Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center website. Available at: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/other-nutrients/fiber. Accessed October 4, 2018.

Nutrition Care Manual. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Eat Right website. Available at: http://nutritioncaremanual.org. Accessed October 4, 2018.

Slavin JL. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health implications of dietary fiber. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108(10): 1716-1731.

12/9/2011 EBSCO DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T920886/Prevention-of-colorectal-cancer: Aune D, Chan DS, Lau R, et al. Dietary fibre, whole grains, and risk of colorectal cancer: Systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ. 2011;343:d6617.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN  Last Updated: 10/4/2018