‘Tis the season for comfort food, be it vegan mac and cheese or gooey chocolate brownies–but what happens when the table is cleared and your stomach is feeling less than pleased? Including more fiber in your diet can help improve digestion, boost energy, and cleanse your gut, and also prevent you from feeling, shall we say, a little backed-up. Here are the top 10 fiber-rich plant-based foods to incorporate into your diet, especially during the winter when the temptation to eat fat and sugar-rich foods is strong. Your gut will be in tip-top shape in no time!
These delicious and versatile legumes are packed with nutrients and come in numerous varieties. From stews to curries to dips, they are an excellent plant-based staple to have on hand, especially in the fall and winter months. Just one cup of cooked beans contains anywhere from 40-75% of the RDA of fiber, with navy beans and white beans topping the list. If you have trouble digesting beans, check out this article for tips to make them more digestible and less prone to causing, shall we say, “musical” gastrointestinal issues. In addition to being fiber-full, beans are rich in protein, magnesium, and iron, and can promote better cardiovascular health.
An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it will give you a boost of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, making it beneficial for just about every organ in your body! From sweet and soft to tart and crispy, there’s an apple for every occasion, and they can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. One medium-sized apple contains roughly 4.5 grams of fiber, or 15-20% of the RDA, and this fiber is largely concentrated in the skin, so avoid peeling apples if you want to get the full benefits. Apples are also packed with antioxidants, fight tooth decay, and may even lower the risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are becoming increasingly popular as an all-natural way to add fiber to your diet, though their health benefits extend beyond cleansing the digestive system. They come from the Salvia hispanica L. plant, and were cultivated as early as 3500 BC in countries such as Mexico and Guatemala. One ounce of chia seeds contains a whopping 11 grams of fiber, nearly 50% of the RDA! They are also rich in protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids–quite a lot of nutrients for such a tiny seed. Chia seeds can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, granola, or yogurt, just to list a few ideas. “Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength,” and these seeds will definitely make you stronger in more ways than one!
Good for more than just making plain ‘ol oatmeal, oats are filled with nutrients and can be used in recipes ranging from cookies to mock “meatloaf” to granola bars. They come in several varieties depending on how processed they are–steel-cut, Scottish, rolled, and quick-cooking are four common types found in most grocery stores, in order from least to most processed. Steel-cut oats rank highest in terms of fiber, with a mere quarter cup containing 5 grams of fiber. Still, regardless of the kind, oats are packed with other nutrients such as protein, magnesium, and zinc, and can help boost heart health and improve digestion. They are also cheap and easy to cook, so add them to your shopping list this winter!