The Best Tasting High Fiber Foods

ripe pears on a wicker mat
Getting enough fiber in your diet can cut your risk for heart disease, improve your health, and help dieting success in a number of ways. Yet many of us cringe as we visualize a diet full of dry fiber foods like crackers or wheat bran.

This is a common misconception, says registered dietitian Brie Turner-McGrievy, Ph.D., R.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A lot of people have no idea how to incorporate fiber-rich foods into their diet. They immediately think of whole wheat bread, fiber crackers, or powdered fiber mixed with water as a staple of a high-fiber diet.

“When I tell people to increase fiber, their first response is usually, ‘What fiber supplement should I take?’” says Dr. Turner-McGrievy. While supplements may occasionally be necessary, it’s best to start by incorporating more fiber-rich foods into your diet.

The good news is that many fiber-rich foods are as delicious as they are nutritious. You’ll find that your diet will become more plant-based over time and newly-enhanced with a variety of flavors. Here are 10 of the best natural sources to add more fiber to your diet:

Artichokes. Few fiber-rich foods are more fun to eat than artichokes, and this veggie treat provides you with about 7 grams of fiber.

Pears. Sweet, juicy pears rank high up on the list of surprisingly fiber-rich foods, ranging between 4.4 and 5.5 grams depending on the type of pear.

Berries. Blackberries and raspberries weigh in at 4 grams of fiber per serving and can be very tasty as a topping to breakfast cereal, as a stand-alone dessert, or as a simple, refreshing snack.

Mixed veggies. One-half cup of cooked vegetables delivers about 4 grams of fiber.

Cocoa powder. If you like to make your own hot chocolate, 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder in a one-cup serving equals about 4 grams of fiber.

Sweet potato. Cooked with its skin on, a sweet potato serves up 3.8 grams of fiber. You can also get this fiber by baking sweet potato fries, a great alternative to traditional French fries.

Dried figs. These sweet, slightly-chewy treats give you about 3.7 grams of fiber per serving.

Pumpkin. A half-cup of canned pumpkin has about 3.6 grams of fiber. It’s a great ingredient in pies and breads. It also helps thicken stews and soups.

Almonds. These nuts have a number of health benefits, including a relatively high fiber content – 3.5 grams of fiber per serving.

Peas. The common green pea served as a side dish or added to stews and casseroles provides 2.5 to 3.5 grams of fiber per serving. Split peas, commonly used in pea soup, have as much as 8 grams per serving.

Of course prunes, beans, legumes, bran, bulgur wheat, and yes, those fiber crackers – are all high-fiber foods and can be a part of a healthy high-fiber diet. But for diversity and taste, you can change it up with these additions. The more variety you have in your diet, the healthier it will be overall.

Here’s an added tip to get more fiber from everyday foods you eat: Opt for the least amount of processing as possible, and eat foods in their natural state. For example, apple juice may be refreshing, but if you want fiber, eating a whole apple instead will net you 3.6 grams of it, says Turner-McGrievy.

Remember that every little bit of fiber you can add to your daily meals and snacks counts.

Soy Exposed: The Good & The Bad

soy beansOne minute something’s good for you, the next it isn’t. Now it’s soy’s turn.

You may be thinking, “I don’t do tofu or soymilk, so this article isn’t relevant to me, but you may be surprised to find out that you might still be consuming much more soy than you think.

Practically all processed foods contain some form of soy. Even some canned tuna contains a soy protein as part of the broth. Check the foods you buy for these ingredients: Soy lecithin, soy protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, texturized vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein or any other phrase containing the word “soy.”

Got your attention now?

So is it good or bad? Well, that’s still up for debate. Many health professionals are even confused, and are hastily joining a soy-bashing fad. But is this latest information on soy really accurate? It seems as if people are scrutinizing a distorted view of soy due to a lack of education and misunderstanding of cultural history. Soy, like tuna, salmon, and dairy, is now on an endangered species list. So, let’s set the record straight by examining the core of this problem – the genuine dangers of adulterated soy – a “modified” form of safe soy.

The Good

Soybeans supply a source of oil used for forage and soil improvement, and have been safely used as a staple food in traditional Chinese and Japanese cultures for centuries. Native to Asia, the soybean plant is an erect bushy, hairy annual herb with trifoliate leaves and purple to pink flowers. Extensively cultivated for food and scavenging, and soil improvement, the soy plant has particularly nutritious oil-rich seeds called soya, soybean, soya bean, soja, or soja bean. Soy sauce is a thin sauce made of fermented soybeans. Soy is the most highly proteinaceous vegetable crop known to man.

Soybeans contain a striking selection of biologically active components called phytochemicals, the most noteworthy are isoflavones. Isoflavones are compounds currently studied for the relief of certain menopausal symptoms, cancer prevention, slowing or reversing of osteoporosis, and reducing the risk of heart disease.

The Bad

American soy has been GMO-d, contaminated, sprayed with pesticides, fertilized with toxic chemicals, and harvested and sent to market before being properly fermented. This is one reason many European countries such as France and Denmark, and Eastern European countries such as China, Taiwan, and Singapore have turned away ships exporting American soy to their countries.

Over ninety percent of American soy products are genetically modified, and the good ol’ USA can also claim having one of the highest percentages of food contamination due to pesticides.

The Solution

Do you want to know how to keep your soy healthy? Well, here’s the key – purchase soy products that have been properly fermented and organically grown, and like everything else you eat, consume soy in moderation. (Many Americans tend to “over-do” a good-thing.)

So why do American soy manufacturers leave proper fermentation out of modern soy processing? Time and money, perhaps?

Limit your use of soy to fermented and organic soy products only, like tempeh or miso. Purchase soy that is grown and processed “properly”, primarily from select foreign and specialized organic sources. Avoid GMO and domestically mass-produced soy products. Limit your daily consumption of soy, just as you limit your consumption of meats, dairy, and other foods. Treat soy consumption in Westernized nations with scrutiny, just as you do with tuna, farm-raised salmon, GMO grains, and highly processed dairy. Be cautious concerning the soy sources of baby formulas and leave the modified forms for the mass-manufacturers to eat.