Highest Fiber Vegetables and Foods: Benefits and Food Lists

high-fiber foods

For thyroid patients, a high-fiber diet can be of particular benefit in two key ways: fiber can aid in weight loss for thyroid patients, and can help with chronic constipation, a common thyroid-related complaint. Understand fiber, the types of fiber, and the foods that are rich in fiber, so you can make sure you are eating a high-fiber diet.

What is Fiber?

Fiber (sometimes spelled fibre) is also commonly known as “roughage.” Dietary fiber describes plant-based foods that are not digested or absorbed.

Most of the foods you eat – which include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins – are broken down and absorbed by your body – except for fiber. The stomach can’t digest fiber. Fiber passes through the body – the stomach, then the small intestine, followed by the colon, and then it exits the body – basically untouched. While passing through the digestive system, fiber is thought to help eliminate toxins, and in the bloodstream, fiber can help keep arteries clearer of plaque buildup. 

Benefits of a High-Fiber Diet

In general, there are also many benefits of a diet high in both types of fiber. Fiber can: 

  • Reduce the risk for diverticulitis. Insoluble fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of diverticulitis by up to 40%.
  • Reduce the risk of stroke. For every 7 grams more fiber consumed daily, the stroke risk decreases by 7 percent.
  • Aid in weight loss and management. Scientific studies consistently show that the more fiber in the daily diet, the lower the risk of obesity. This is likely because fiber makes one feel full, which means one is likely to eat less. Less daily calories can eventually lead to weight loss.
  • Improve heart health. An important connection has been found among fiber intake and heart attacks. New studies show that patients eating a high-fiber diet decrease their risk of heart attack by up to 40 percent.
  • Lower cholesterol. The soluble fiber found in certain beans, flaxseed, oat bran, and oats may help lower “bad” cholesterol levels. This can also lead to less heart inflammation, and reduced blood pressure levels.
  • Improve digestion. Some dietary fibers may help control digestion. This will aid the intestines in protecting the body from germs.
  • Reduce hemorrhoids. By eating a high fiber diet, constipation problems may be solved, reducing the risk and severity of hemorrhoid symptoms.
  • Help control blood sugar levels. People with diabetes on a high-fiber diet have shown that their absorption of sugar is slowed. This helps promote better glucose levels. Eating a high-fiber diet may decrease the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Increase mineral absorption. Some specific dietary fiber may help the body to absorb certain minerals more effectively, especially calcium.
  • Increase insulin sensitivity. In­sulin sensitivity may be improved with certain dietary fibers.
  • Relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Fiber has been shown to decrease IBS symptoms in some people
  • Reduce risks of gallstones/kidney stones.Fiber helps regulate blood sugar, which may help alleviate kidney stones or gallbladder issues.
  • Regulate bowel movements. Fiber can help soften the stool. It also increases the weight and size of the stool. This can help relieve constipation
  • Prevent colon cancer. Some promising studies have shown that a high-fiber diet may decrease risks of colorectal cancer.

Regardless of soluble or insoluble, the recommendation is that you consume at least 25 mg of fiber each day, primarily from fruits and vegetables.

There are two kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble.

Soluble Fiber

There are two kinds of fiber – soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber is fiber that is easily dissolved in water, where it forms a gel-like substance. This type of fiber has been shown to help elps lower blood cholesterol levels, as well as blood glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in:

  • Apples
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Citrus fruits
  • Flour, corn
  • Hazelnuts
  • Jicama
  • Mixed vegetables (frozen)
  • Oats
  • Okra, cooked
  • Onion, white, yellow, red, cooked
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Prunes
  • Peas, cooked
  • Soy flour*
  • Yams, canned with syrup, drained

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber is a fiber that helps speed up elimination from the body. Insoluble fiber can help prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber also helps keep the pH level at an optimum level, which then lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer. The foods that are highest in insoluble fiber include the following:

  • Almonds*
  • Apple with skin
  • Baking chocolate
  • Barley, cooked
  • Bran cereal
  • Blueberries
  • Brazil nuts
  • Broccoli*
  • Brussels sprouts*
  • Bulgur
  • Cabbage*
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower*
  • Cereal party mix, homemade
  • Cherries
  • Chestnuts
  • Coconut
  • Corn nuts
  • Corn
  • Cranberries
  • Elderberries
  • Figs
  • Flax seed
  • Flour, barley, barley bran, barley malt, rye, whole wheat
  • Gooseberries
  • Green beans
  • Guava
  • Hickory nuts
  • Hominy
  • Jicama
  • Kale*
  • Kidney beans
  • Kiwi
  • Kumquat
  • Lentils
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Mango
  • Millet*
  • Mushrooms
  • Nectarine
  • Oatmeal
  • Oyster
  • Papaya
  • Pasta, whole wheat, cooked
  • Peanuts*
  • Pears
  • Peas
  • Pine nuts
  • Pineapple
  • Pistachios
  • Potatoes
  • Prunes
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Quinoa
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Rice, brown, cooked
  • Rutabaga
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sorghum
  • Spinach
  • Split peas
  • Sprouts
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomato paste
  • Tomatoes
  • Trail mix
  • Turnips
  • Vegetable juice
  • Walnuts
  • Wheat bran. germ
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Wild rice, cooked

* These high-fiber foods are also goitrogenic, meaning that they promote thyroid enlargement and can potentially cause or aggravate hypothyroidism. Typically, the risk is highest when these foods are consumed raw, regularly, and in substantial quantity. Cooking eliminates most goitrogenic properties.

A Caution for Thyroid Patients

If you start a high-fiber diet, and are taking thyroid hormone replacement medications, make sure that you have your thyroid blood test levels rechecked in six to eight weeks. Fiber can sometimes change the absorption of your medication, so it's important to recheck to see if you need to modify your dosage. 

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