There are two types of dietary fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water; insoluble fiber doesn’t. While both should be part of your diet, here we’ll look specifically at the food sources and health benefits of soluble fiber.
There are different types and amounts of soluble fiber found in many plant-based foods, and each type provides different benefits. Some soluble fibers form a thick gel when they absorb water, while others don’t have any impact when mixed with water.1 The good bacteria in your digestive tract can even digest some forms of soluble fiber.
Check out these 10 sources of soluble fiber to help you increase your daily intake.
Turns out your grandma was right about prunes. With 3.6 grams of soluble fiber per ½ cup serving2,3 prunes have earned their reputation for getting bowel movements going. A 2019 study found that the daily addition of approximately ½ cup of prunes to the diet increased the amount of stool eliminated and elimination frequency.4
Whip up your favorite chili recipe with kidney beans to help get more soluble fiber into your diet. Whether you like them in chilis, curries, bean salads or all of the above, kidney beans are a valuable addition to a healthy high-fiber diet. They consist of up to 47% fiber5 and provide 3.48 grams of soluble fiber per cup.3,6,7
Did you know carrots are high in beta carotene and soluble fiber? Raw carrots provide 1.13 grams of fiber per cup.8 Swap your snacks out for a cup or two of crunchy raw carrots, and pair with your favorite dipping sauce for some added flavor.
Getting enough fiber in your diet is a challenge, and it can be hard to track how much of that fiber is soluble. To help close the fiber gap, you can always turn to a dietary fiber supplement like Metamucil®. Metamucil® powders are made with psyllium fiber. If you take 2 rounded teaspoons of Sugar-Free Orange Smooth Powder daily, you’ll get 6 grams of dietary fiber total, with 5 grams of that being soluble fiber. Plus, in addition to helping support digestive health, Metamucil® also helps you control your appetite, maintain healthy blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol to promote heart health.
You can also get psyllium fiber in capsule form. Metamucil® offers 3-in-1 Fiber Capsules or 3-in-1 Fiber Capsules Plus Calcium. Taking 5 capsules per serving will give you 2 grams of soluble fiber, and 3 grams total of dietary fiber. You can take several servings to get more fiber in your diet, but it’s always best to start small and build up your intake as your body adjusts to more fiber in your diet. Metamucil® capsules also aid digestive health by promoting regularity, and they support heart health by lowering cholesterol and helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Oats (Instant Oatmeal)
Oats contain high levels of a heart-healthy soluble fiber known as beta glucan,1,9 which has 1.64 grams of soluble fiber per cup.8 You can increase your soluble fiber intake by adding oats into cookies or muffins.8 And you can always eat oatmeal for breakfast or take granola with you on the go for a high-fiber snack.
Avocados are known for their healthy fat, plus they’re loaded with soluble fiber. A medium-sized avocado provides about 3.13 grams of soluble fiber.3,7,10 Avocados make a delicious snack on their own. You can also eat them for breakfast on toast, at lunch as guacamole, or cut them up for dinner as a side dish (cut them into cubes and dress with olive oil and vinegar).
Though it has lots of structure-forming insoluble fiber, broccoli is also a great source of soluble fiber. In fact, soluble fiber makes up an impressive 40% of broccoli’s total fiber content. Just 1 cup of broccoli provides 2.89 grams of soluble fiber and 7.27 grams of total dietary fiber.3,11
You might be surprised to learn that navel oranges are a great source of soluble fiber. In fact, soluble fiber makes up 58% of their total fiber content.3 One medium-sized navel orange provides 1.9 grams of soluble fiber,3,12 making it a refreshing, “fiber-licious” snack.
Just one average-sized pear provides 20% of the recommended daily fiber intake.13 Most of the soluble fiber in pears is from gel-forming pectin.14 Pears can be a refreshing snack on their own. Or you can add pears to a salad, make them a side for your meal or bake them into your favorite treat (although baking pears may cook out some of their fiber content).
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- McRorie JW Jr. Evidence-Based Approach to Fiber Supplements and Clinically Meaningful Health Benefits, Part 1: What to Look for and How to Recommend an Effective Fiber Therapy. Nutr Today. 2015;50(2):82-89.
- USDA. Prune, dried. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102639/nutrients.
- INDIVIDUAL SUGARS, SOLUBLE, AND INSOLUBLE DIETARY FIBER CONTENTS OF 70 HIGH CONSUMPTION FOODS. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 2002 https://scihub.se/10.1006/jfca.2002.1096#
- The effect of prunes on stool output, gut transit time and gastrointestinal microbiota: A randomized controlled trial. Clin Nutr, 2019. 38(1): p. 165-173 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29398337/
- Nutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidant activities of 26 kidney bean cultivars. Food Chem Toxicol, 2017. 108(Pt B): p. 467-477 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27613272/
- USDA. Beans, kidney, all types, mature seeds, canned. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173741/nutrients
- Metamucil High Fiber Foods: https://www.metamucil.com/en-us/articles/fiber-101/high-fiber-foods
- “Fiber Facts,” Washington University.
- Effects of daily consumption of psyllium, oat bran and polyGlycopleX on obesity-related disease risk factors: A critical review. Nutrition, 2019. 57: p. 84-91 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30153584/
- USDA. Avocado, raw. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102652/nutrients
- USDA. Broccoli, fresh, cooked, no added fat. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103172/nutrients
- USDA. Oranges, raw, navels. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169917/nutrients
- USDA. Pears, raw, bartlett. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/746773/nutrients
- Pectins and pectic-oligosaccharides inhibit Escherichia coli O157:H7 Shiga toxin as directed towards the human colonic cell line HT29. FEMS Microbiol Lett, 2003. 218(1): p. 101-5 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12583904/