Getting enough fibre can be a challenge for some individuals on a gluten-free diet. Many foods promoted as high-fibre are wheat-derived, such as wheat bran & germ and whole grain bread, or contain gluten, like rye and spelt. In addition, gluten-free foods are often low-fibre (think breads made of potato starch and rice flour). If you’re on a gluten-free diet and looking to increase your fibre intake, consider consuming more of these high-fibre foods. Women should aim to get at least 25g of fibre and men 38g per day. Fibre promotes a healthy digestive system- including bowel regularity-, it can lower cholesterol, help control blood sugar, increase satiety, cravings, and promote weight loss. Fibre also helps feed the friendly bacteria in the gut. So fibre up!
These delicious, reddish-pink berries have 8g of fibre per cup. You would need to have 3 or 4 slices whole wheat bread to get the same amount of fibre. Aside from fibre, raspberries are also rich in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, vitamins C and Bs. They are low glycemic which makes them an ideal fruit to eat for diabetics.
Avocados are nutritious, delicious and high in fibre. Half of an avocado has around 7g of fibre. Along with fibre, avocados are an excellent source of the blood pressure lowering mineral potassium. And they’re low in sodium. They also contain vitamin E and heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Keep in mind that half an avocado has 14g of fat so if you’re trying to watch your weight, go ahead and have that half avocado but cut down on other unhealthier fats. Most of us would benefit from doing so anyhow!
Quinoa is often referred to as a grain but it is actually the seed of a plant. Seed, grain, or whatever, quinoa is a nutrition powerhouse. What I love about quinoa is that it’s super versatile; from quinoa salads, to quinoa muffins, quinoa and oats for breakfast, or instead of rice. Quinoa is gluten-free and has 5.5g of fibre per cooked cup. It also contains all the essential amino acids making it a complete protein. One cup of cooked quinoa has nearly 9g of protein.Try a quinoa, bean salad topped with pumpkin seeds for a high-protein, high-fibre vegan meal.
4. Gluten-Free Oats
Doctors often used to tell their patients to eat oatmeal when they had high cholesterol (maybe they still do?)? Well that’s because oats contain beta-glucans, a type of fibre that lowers cholesterol (and blood sugars for that matter). Oats are also an inexpensive fibre source. Oats are naturally gluten-free; however, they are often manufactured in facilities that also produce wheat. So if you are strictly gluten-free, make sure to get a package with a gluten-free label.
5. Coconut flour
If you’ve ever tried the Paleo diet you probably came across coconut flour at some point- especially if you tried baking. Coconut flour is made from dried coconut pulp, so it’s not your typical (grain) flour. In fact, it is quite low in carbohydrate but high in fibre! One-quarter cup of coconut flour has 12g of fibre! Add a ¼ cup to your batch next time you make gluten-free muffins and you’ll add 1g of fibre per muffin. You can replace other flours with coconut flour to up to 20%. So if your recipe calls for, say, 2 cups brown rice flour, you can instead use 1¾ brown rice flour and ¼ cup coconut flour, for example. Check out my paleo bread recipe for ideas on how to use coconut flour. Above is a picture of some coconut four cookies I made while on the Paleo diet.
Lentils and beans are an excellent source of fibre and protein. Lentils are especially high in fibre containing 15g per cooked cup. That’s more than half the recommended daily fibre intake for females. They also contain 90% of the daily recommendations for folic acid, and are a good source of potassium, iron and zinc. And, unlike raspberries and coconut flour (mentioned above), lentils are really cheap! I personally like curried lentil soup and lentil salad.
Not only are artichokes a good source of fibre (5.4g per medium artichoke), but they are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, and some B vitamins. The fibre in artichokes is mainly inulin, also known as a pre-biotic. Inulin can increase the population of friendly bacteria in the colon and reduce harmful bacteria. Inulin has been found to reduce levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as improve blood sugar control in diabetics. Artichokes are also known for their liver protecting properties. They contain compounds called caffeoylquinic acids, which have been suggested to have liver-protective and generating effects. Boil them or steam them and have them with an olive oil and lemon dip.
8. Black beans
Like lentils, black beans have 15g fibre per cup and a similar protein content (and price!). Beans, generally, are extremely healthy and are especially heart healthy. They contain antioxidants and vitamins, like folic acid, and minerals that promote heart and cardiovascular health. Research has also found beans to be protective against certain types of cancer. In the Nurses’ Health Study II, eating lentils or beans two or more times per week was associated with a 24% reduction in breast cancer risk. Make a black bean taco or quesadilla using corn tortillas. Or sneak them into a baked good recipe. Look out for my black bean brownie recipe coming soon. To the left is a black bean and rice dish I had in Cuba.
This green, crunchy veggie has one of the highest vitamin C contents of all veggies and fruit. Yes, broccoli has more vitamin C than oranges! It also has more fibre. A 2 cup serving of chopped broccoli contains 5g of fibre. Broccoli is low in carbohydrate and fat and contains anticancer phytochemicals. Broccoli is yummy any and every way: steamed, boiled, raw, sautéed, in a GF pasta dish or on GF pizza, in an omelet or soufflé, in a salad… you name it!
Flaxseeds, or linseeds, are not only a good source of fibre but also in the omega-3 essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.Flaxseeds are also high in lignans, a fibre that acts as a phytoestrogen. Lignans bind to estrogen receptors thereby reducing the harmful effects of excess estrogen, particularly on breast tissue. Lignans are also great hormone balancers. Ground flaxseeds are the best way to get all of their benefits. Either purchase vacuum packed ground flax, or buy them whole and grind them yourself. Store them in the fridge or freezer in order to keep them from going rancid (they do so very quickly). Three tablespoons of ground flax has around 5.5g of fibre.
11. Chia seeds
I can’t believe I still haven’t made or tried chia pudding! Will do soon. I Promise. Chia seeds are very high in fibre containing 5g per tablespoon. Like flaxseeds, they are also high in heart heathy ALA. Chia is also great for people with diabetes. Studies have shown that chia can help improve insulin resistance and blood sugar control. The high protein and fibre content in chia seeds also makes them more filling. So they are ideal for increasing satiety and weight loss. Chia seeds are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus (the bone minerals) and even iron. You can have chia seeds whole or ground.Don’t forget to store them in the fridge or freezer if ground.
12. Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
Like most beans, chickpeas are fibre-rich. One cup of cooked chickpeas has 12.5g of fibre.A one cup serving also provides 26% of a woman’s daily iron needs (and 50% for men). They’re also a good source of zinc. Did you know that zinc helps increase fertility both in males and females? In males, zinc may increases sperm count and motility. In females, zinc is needed for egg maturation and ovulation. So getting more fibre is not the only reason to eat chickpeas! And of course, they’re versatile, delicious and satisfying! I even snuck them into some energy balls. Check out my recipe!
This delicious fall fruit has 5-6g of fibre per medium fruit. In North America, the most common types of pears are Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, and Comice. Like apples, pears are high in pectins, a type of fibre that helps in lowering cholesterol. Pears are also hypoallergenic, so they are a recommended fruit for infants. I love the versatility of pears. I like adding them to apple crumbles, chopping them up in my oatmeal for extra fibre and flavour, serving them with cheese as appetizers, or slicing some into a salad.
14. Butternut squash
I love butternut squash, especially in the winter season. Butternut squash has 7g of fibre per cup cubed and 22g of carbs. That means that for 1 cup you’re getting one carb serving (the equivalent of 1 slice of bread except twice- or more- the fibre). Butternut squash is loaded with beta-carotene, the vegetarian form of vitamin A. Beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant and reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Butternut squash is also a good source of vitamin C providing 50% of your required daily vitamin C needs. Did you know that vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron? So next time you make a lentil soup, add some butternut squash. The picture above is my Butternut Squash Roasted cashew soup. Find it in my recipes.
Dates are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. They are high in potassium and even contain more potassium than bananas and potatoes. Mind you, they are higher in calories and sugar. But that’s not always a bad thing. Dates are high in simple sugars making them a great pre and post-workout snack. Dates contain a type of soluble fibre called beta-glucans (like oats), which help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugars. In fact, even though they’re sweet, they’re low glycemic. One-hundred calories worth of dates (5 deglet noor or 1.5 medjool) has 3g fibre + 25g carbs.
The great thing about these foods is that there’s so much more to them than their fibre content (unlike, say, over-the-counter fibre supplements). From vitamins and minerals, to cholesterol lowering, to blood sugar regulating, to fertility enhancing and cancer-preventing. You can get fibre from so many more foods other than breads, grains and wheat. So remember, you can follow a gluten-free diet and still get plenty of fibre.