Few people in the United States get enough fiber in their diet, and fiber can be especially important for people with diabetes. A high fiber intake can lower fasting blood glucose levels, among other benefits.
Fiber is the part of a plant that the body cannot break down during digestion. Only about 5% of people in the United States have it in their diet.
Fiber supports health in a number of ways, including reducing that risk of heart disease. For people with diabetes, a high-fiber diet may have additional benefits.
In this article, learn about the relationship between fiber and diabetes and which foods are good sources of this plant nutrient.
The American Diabetes Association says that people with diabetes should follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.
They recommend that people over the age of 18 consume 22 to 35 grams (g) of fiber each day. They also give more specific goals, depending on a person’s gender and age.
A high-fiber diet can have significant benefits for people with diabetes. A Study Review 2018 found that higher fiber intake was related to slightly lower fasting blood glucose levels.
Other research suggests that a high-fiber diet can help control a person’s glycosylated hemoglobin levels. A glycosylated hemoglobin test shows a person’s average blood glucose level for a few months before the test. This indicates how well your diabetes is being managed over time.
Fiber can provide a number of other health benefits, for everyone. research indicates that you can:
- reduce the risks of developing:
- heart disease
- certain gastrointestinal diseases
- reduce potentially harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels
- lower blood pressure
- improve insulin sensitivity
- support weight loss by increasing the feeling of fullness
Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber breaks down to form a gel-like substance in the stomach. Bacteria break it down further as it travels through the digestive tract.
This type absorbs cholesterol and fats from the diet. It helps lower LDL cholesterol levels and control blood glucose levels after a meal.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not break down and adds bulk to the stool, helping it move efficiently through the digestive tract.
Foods rich in fiber often contain both forms in varying amounts. Some good sources of fiber include:
- whole grains, such as:
- integral rice
- breads and whole grains
- dried fruit
Understand the fiber values on food labels
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), foods labeled as “high” in fiber must contain at least 20% of the recommended daily value of fiber for a person, or at least 5 g in the defined serving.
For a product to advertise a “good” amount of fiber, it must contain at least 10% of the recommended daily value of fiber, or between 2.5 g and 5 g in the defined serving.
Certain snacks can help a person increase their fiber intake. The following snacks have good amounts of fiber, along with other nutrients.
Almonds contain unsaturated fats and healthy proteins. Also, a 1 ounce (oz) serving provides approx 4 g of fiber
Opt for raw almonds and avoid toasted ones with added flavors, salt or sugar.
Popcorn with air
Although some popcorn is loaded with butter, salt, sugar and other unhealthy add-ins, plain popcorn can be a healthy snack.
It’s also a relatively substantial source of fiber, with about 1 cup 1.15 g.
Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, with approx 5g in each spoonful. These seeds work well in salads, yogurt, cereal or baked goods.
Hummus is made with chickpeas, which provide approx 13g of fiber per cup.
A person can make hummus at home relatively easily. Or, opt for store-bought varieties, which come in many flavors.
An average banana has approx 3.3 g of fiber A person can add slices to oatmeal or combine it with peanut butter.
Many people with diabetes need to control their carbohydrate intake. In the list above, almonds, hummus, and chia seeds are high in fiber and contain lower amounts of carbohydrates.
There are many ways to add fiber-rich foods to your meals. Find some ideas below:
Oats with berries
To get the most fiber from oatmeal, it’s best to choose minimally processed steel-cut or rolled oats, rather than quick-cooking products. Half a cup of rolled oats contains about 5g of fiber
Oatmeal topping with berries can increase fiber intake and add sweetness. A cup of berries just finished 3g of fiber
A salad with dark greens
Dark greens such as spinach and kale are rich in vitamins and can form the basis of salads or side dishes.
Kale contains approx 4.1 g of fiber per 100 g portion. Add an olive oil vinaigrette and some nuts, vegetables or fruit.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain approx 2.7 g of fiber per 100 g portion.
The toppings make the difference. Opt for baked potatoes or fries with healthy toppings, such as low-fat cheese or spices and herbs.
Lentils are a staple in soups and grain dishes. They contain approx 7 g of fiber for each 35 g portion.
These contain approx 3.4 g of fiber per cup. Brussels sprouts cook well in the fryer or oven. Or, a person can saute them in olive oil with spices, herbs, lemon, Parmesan cheese or garlic.
Most plant foods contain fiber. The following are foods with a high fiber content:
Fiber can play an important role in managing type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar levels. Getting enough fiber can also reduce the risk of other chronic conditions, including heart disease.
Many plant foods contain significant amounts of fiber and are relatively easy to incorporate into snacks and meals.
Whenever possible, opt for fresh, unprocessed foods and make snacks and meals at home.