10 High Soluble Fiber Foods You Should Add to Your Shopping List ASAP

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If you had to give an award to “World’s Sexiest Nutrient,” I’m not sure what would win, but it probably wouldn’t be fiber. Especially soluble fiber. But TBH that's pretty unfair of us.

Fiber offers your body a ton of health benefits (reduced risk of chronic disease, boosted metabolism, reduced inflammation, and better heart and gut health), and unlike protein, you're probably not eating enough of high-fiber foods regularly. Want to change that ASAP? Say no more.  Ahead are 10 foods high in soluble fiber that'll help you reach your quotas in no time.

Insoluble vs. Soluble FIber: What's the difference?

First things first: Understanding the difference between soluble vs. insoluble fiber is a key part of eating for optimal gut and digestive health. For starters, there are two types of fiber you should be eating regularly: foods with soluble and insoluble fiber. But what’s the difference, you may ask? Well, soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance as it makes its way through the intestines.

Experts In This Article

Meanwhile, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and can actually speed up digestion. Insoluble is pretty much the roughage from fruits and veggies that sweeps out your insides and bulks up your stools for regular BMs. On the other hand, “soluble fiber gets its name because it is soluble in water,” says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RDN, founder and owner of MNC Nutrition, LLC in Philadelphia and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

What are the best foods high in soluble fiber?

Think oats (oatmeal and oat bran), fruits, such as apples and pears (with the skin on) and berries, beans, and legumes (lentils, black beans, chickpeas), as well as most nuts and seeds.

What foods contain insoluble fiber?

Think whole wheat and wheat bran, other whole grains like brown rice and barley, and many fiber-rich vegetables, including celery, carrots, and zucchini, plus leafy greens such as spinach or lettuce.

What are the benefits of high soluble fiber foods?

Today, we're honing in on the soluble kind of fiber. In short, soluble fiber absorbs water, swells, and creates a gel-like substance during digestion, Nolan Cohn says. That keeps BMs moving, but it also has another power: to keep your heart healthy. “Along with water, the gel-like structure can also absorb fatty acids, so it has an added benefit of reducing cholesterol,” she says.

Soluble fiber is also useful in slowing digestion, something that helps regulate blood sugar levels, says Nolan Cohn. A stable release of glucose into your blood helps prevent blood sugar dips and spikes that trigger hunger and mess with the hormones that play a role in appetite control. Finally, like all fiber, soluble feeds your GI bacteria, and we’re all about a healthy gut these days.

How much fiber do you need?

Here's the thing: Most fiber-rich foods are going to include both insoluble and soluble fiber—some simply have more of one and less of the other. Don't stress too much about specific soluble fiber counts; it's difficult to tell how much soluble fiber specifically is in foods since nutrition labels usually just include total fiber. Aim for 25 grams of total fiber a day, says Nolan Cohn, and you'll be good. (Or, roughly six grams of fiber per meal.)

However, if you want to hedge your bets and ensure you're getting lots of soluble fiber in the mix, here's a list of high-fiber foods that generally have a decent amount of soluble fiber, too:

10 foods high in soluble fiber

1. Oats

Fiber: 4 grams per cup (cooked)

There’s a reason why “reduces cholesterol” or “is good for heart health” is slapped on oatmeal labels: the cereal contains a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which is what gives it its creamy consistency and cholesterol-lowering properties.

2. Black Beans

Fiber: 17 grams per cup

No matter what type of bean you love best, they’re all winners here. But black beans win out, says Nolan Cohn. “One cup of black beans has five grams of soluble fiber—that’s a lot,” she says. Others that get close are navy, red, and kidney beans.

3. Lentils

Fiber: 16 grams per cup (cooked)

If you don’t routinely eat lentils, you may be missing out on some of its impressive benefits. Not only are they the perfect source of protein in those grain and veggie bowls you’ve been loving on lately (you know, the ones with the to-die-for tahini sauce), but they’re also packed with tons of soluble fiber, says Nolan Cohn. A win-win.

4. Chia

Fiber: 10 grams per one-ounce serving

Chia seeds are little fiber bombs. One tip-off is that it contains soluble fiber: when mixed with liquid, chia takes on the gel-like texture that makes it so excellent in chia puddings (and your digestion). Remember, a little goes a long way and consuming too much chia at once can cause GI-related distress. When starting on a high-fiber diet, slow and steady wins the race, fam. In other words, work your way up as you slowly begin to integrate more fiber into your daily routine to avoid upsetting your digestion.

5. Flaxseed

Fiber: 3 grams per tablespoon

Plant-based bakers know that by mixing water with ground flax, you can make a “flax egg,” aka a great egg substitute. That’s soluble fiber at work, folks. But keep in mind fiber isn't the only rockstar nutrient these small but mighty seeds have to offer. In fact, flax also contains omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that help support heart health.

6. Barley

Fiber: 6 grams per cup (cooked)

According to Oldways Whole Grains Council, barley is the highest fiber whole grain out there. But that's not all. In a small 2020 study, the grain got praise for its ability to improve blood sugar levels1 (and then some). "After eating the bread made out of barley kernel, we saw an increase in gut hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, and an increase in a hormone that helps reduce chronic low-grade inflammation, among the participants," said Anne Nilsson, lead study author, in a press release. "In time, this could help prevent the occurrence of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

7. Brussels sprouts

Fiber: 3 grams per cup (raw)

The veggie joins others like broccoli and cabbage as good sources of fiber. If you're not into the whole ordeal of chopping up your sprouts, buy pre-shredded bags of the veggie to sauté, throw on a pizza, or toss with olive oil and roast.

8. Avocados

Fiber: 9.25 grams per fruit

Aside from being our favorite topping to spread on toast, avocados are loaded with health benefits like healthy monounsaturated fats, potassium, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. Plus, they’re filled with magnesium, which can help you get a better night’s sleep. For a delicious high-fiber breakfast, pair avocado with some whole grain toast. Yep, avo toast has never failed anyone.

9. Sweet Potatoes

Fiber: 6.6 grams per cup

The humble sweet potato is one of a dietitian’s favorite gut-friendly foods for its boatload of health benefits, as they’re a great source of vitamin A, which helps keep skin glowing, and potassium, which helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals. Not to mention, it’s one of the top 10 anti-inflammatory foods some of the longest-living people in the world eat daily in the Blue Zones, and it’s a great high-fiber food for a healthy heart. This list goes on and on.

10. Broccoli

Fiber: 2.5 grams per 100-gram serving

If your parents always said that you should eat more fiber-rich vegetables like broccoli, they weren’t exactly wrong. After all, the veggie is loaded with essential nutrients like folate, vitamins A, C, B6, and K. Plus, the fiber helps support a healthy metabolism, too.

How can I add more soluble fiber (and fiber in general) to my diet?

Right. The goal may be 25 grams, but research shows that most folks are getting only half of that amount regularly. Big sigh. That's a main reason why nutrition experts stress the importance of filling up at least half your plate with veggies (and fruits) and one-quarter with whole grains—these are all top-notch sources of fiber, and eating this way will help you reach that goal.

If you're unsure about whether or not you're meeting your daily quotas of fiber, nonetheless soluble fiber, then you may want to link up with a registered dietitian to assess your specific needs and potential areas for improvement. In order to up your fiber intake, they may recommend a psyllium husk supplement (a supercharged source of fiber). It often comes in powder form, which you can then stir into yogurt or hot cereal or add to your smoothie to make it more palatable, says Nolan Cohn. Or, perhaps high-fiber drinks to sip on throughout the day may be an easier way to fit in more fiber while on the go.

Can you eat too much soluble fiber?

No matter what fiber source you're going for, the trick is to very gradually—one more time for those in the back—gradually increase consumption. “If your body isn’t used to it, increasing fiber intake quickly can lead to GI distress,” Nolan Cohn says. Her recommendation: Don’t add more than three to five grams of fiber per meal to start; two to three grams per meal is on the safer side. Here’s to a happy heart and stomach.

Discover how to make an easy high-fiber chia seed cracker for snacking on throughout the day:

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Nilsson, Anne C et al. “Increased gut hormones and insulin sensitivity index following a 3-d intervention with a barley kernel-based product: a randomised cross-over study in healthy middle-aged subjects.” The British journal of nutrition vol. 114,6 (2015): 899-907. doi:10.1017/S0007114515002524

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