In fact, for some folks, consuming too much fiber can be detrimental for their gut health. "Eating nutrient-dense foods that are filled with fiber is important for fueling your body, however, there may come a time and place where fiber needs to be moderated,” says Laura Ligos, RDN, CSSD, a nutrition expert and recipe developer. Many people living with gastrointestinal diseases (such as Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis) may have to limit their fiber intake during flare-ups, and fiber is generally not recommended to anyone experiencing stomach discomfort as it isn't the easiest to digest.
So, is low fiber exactly what you may need? You may need to ask the pros. "Of course, it’s necessary to have a conversation with a doctor to figure out the best diet for your condition," Ligos says. However, if cutting back on the fiber intake is exactly what the doctor ordered, we delve into when adopting a low fiber diet might be beneficial and share the top sources of low fiber fruits ahead.
Health benefits of fiber
Before we jump into low fiber fruits, let's first outline what fiber is. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. The intestines can’t digest soluble fiber, so it binds to cholesterol and removes it from the body. Insoluble fiber helps add water into your stool, which makes it easier to poop because the softer texture puts less strain on your bowel. According to Ligos, it’s especially important to stay hydrated when eating high fiber foods to (ahem) smooth out the process.
So how can you tell if you’re even getting the right amount of fiber? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that adults consume about 25 to 35 grams of total fiber per day, but the truth is, most people aren’t consuming nearly enough. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data indicates that average US fiber consumption is 13 to 15 grams per day, which is approximately 50 percent of the current recommended intake.
The good news? Finding ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet is easier than you may think. Fiber can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables such as pears and apples with the skin on, blackberries, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and more. Many whole grains and legumes are also rich in fiber. These include, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, quinoa, and oats. And believe it or not, snacking on dark chocolate and popcorn can be another delicious way to increase your fiber intake. A win-win.
When a low fiber diet can be beneficial
Just like with many other aspects of nutrition, everyone’s fiber requirements are different. For instance, a handful of health conditions, including gastroparesis and diverticulitis, can be better managed with a low fiber diet. Rebecca Ditkoff, MPH, RD, founder of Nutrition by RD, explains that “for people living with gastroparesis, their stomach empties too slowly, which can cause a range of symptoms—from mild to severe.” And, since eating too much fiber can delay gut transit time in the body, avoiding certain foods can help prevent additional issues, she adds.
“Diverticulitis is another condition where a doctor may suggest modifying fiber consumption,” says Ditkoff. It occurs when small pouches or pockets form in the wall or lining of the digestive tract. “Fiber recommendations for someone living with diverticulitis may vary. If you’re not in an active state of inflammation, also known as diverticulosis, you may require adequate fiber. Whereas if you’re in an acute state of inflammation, a doctor may tell you to eat a low fiber diet,” Ditkoff explains.
Additionally, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common GI condition where recommended fiber consumption varies depending on symptoms. That said, when in doubt of what's the best thing to do regarding your fiber intake, Ditkoff suggests always working with a doctor and a registered dietitian to get personalized support.
Can you eat fruit on a low fiber diet?
The answer is simple: Yes! In the event that a low fiber diet is right for you, there are plenty of foods like low fiber vegetables, that can make deciphering what to eat much easier. Today, however, we're focusing on low fiber fruits. Generally speaking, low fiber fruits are typically, but not limited to, ones higher in water content, like watermelon. Additionally, fruits that have been cooked down or are pulp-free can reduce the fiber content. "Foods like applesauce, canned fruit, and fruit juices are also low fiber options," Ligos explains.
That said, the dietitian notes that some of these foods may come with other side effects, which are important to keep in mind when low fiber fruits into your daily routine. "Many juice drinks are higher in sugar, which may lead to different digestive and blood sugar issues depending on the individual."
On the flip side, fruits that are low in fiber can still offer a bevy of other nutritional benefits. According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, it's important to point out that just because these fruits are labeled as "low" fiber, doesn't mean they don't offer as much as, say, high-fiber raspberries. "We don't just eat fruit because of their fiber content. So, if a fruit option doesn't contain fiber—or contains a small amount—that doesn't mean that its 'bad,' either," Manaker says. In fact, she explains that fruits are also a source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as plant compounds that many of us are not eating enough of regularly. "Reports show that 90 percent of Americans are not eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables every day," she says.
So, what gives? Figuring out the best meal plan to suit your individualized needs is a highly personal journey; however, Manaker says leaning with a diversified diet can help make the process a little easier. "If you are eating whole grains, veggies, nuts, seeds, and other fiber sources, there is no reason to be concerned if you enjoy these low fiber fruits, as you can easily get your fiber fix from these options," she says. "And for some, following a low fiber diet is actually exactly what they need. For example, some people with certain gastrointestinal concerns need to avoid eating too much fiber." (Can you eat too much fruit? Yep, that's a thing, too.) In short: It's about finding the right balance that works for you.
What fruits are low in fiber?
Here are 12 fruits that contain the least amount of fiber per serving (about 1 cup):
- Apricots (0.7 g)
- Plumbs (0.9 g)
- Cantaloupe (.9 g)
- Watermelon (1.1 g)
- Honeydew (1.1 g)
- Pineapple (1.2 g)
- Nectarines (2.2 g)
- Papaya (2.5 g)
- Banana (2.6 g)
- Strawberries (2.9 g)
- Raw figs (2.9 g)
- Peaches (3 g)
Whether you're looking for fruits that are higher in fiber than the above or you're (conversely) in search of a stomach-soothing snack—like fruit—that won't irritate your gut, we wish you happy, healthy digesting.
A registered dietitian shares a guide on how to eat to keep inflammation at bay:
- Quagliani, Diane, and Patricia Felt-Gunderson. “Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit.” American journal of lifestyle medicine vol. 11,1 80-85. 7 Jul. 2016, doi:10.1177/1559827615588079
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