Few people in the United States have enough fiber in their diet – and fiber can be especially important for people with diabetes. A high fiber intake can, among other things, lower the fasting blood sugar level.
Fiber is the part of a plant that the body cannot break down during digestion. Only about 5% of people in the US get enough of it in their diet.
Fiber supports health in a number of ways, including reducing this risk for heart disease. For people with diabetes, a high-fiber diet can have additional benefits.
In this article, you will learn more about the link between fiber and diabetes and which foods are good sources of this phytonutrient.
The American Diabetes Association says people with diabetes should follow the American Diet Guidelines for 2020-2025.
They recommend that people over 18 get 22 to 35 grams (g) of fiber every day. They also state more specific goals, depending on a person’s gender and age.
Eating a high-fiber diet can have important benefits for people with diabetes. A review of the studies in 2018 found that higher fiber intake was linked to slightly lower fasting blood sugar levels.
Other research suggests that a high-fiber diet may help control a person’s glycated hemoglobin levels. A glycated hemoglobin test shows a person’s average blood sugar level a few months before the test. This indicates how well your diabetes will be treated over time.
Fiber can provide a number of other health benefits for anyone. Research shows that it:
- reduce development risks:
- Heart disease
- certain gastrointestinal disorders
- Reduce the levels of potentially harmful low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
- low 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 and forms a gel-like substance in the stomach. Bacteria keep breaking it down as it travels through the digestive tract.
This type absorbs cholesterol and dietary fats. It helps lower LDL cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels after a meal.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not break down and adds bulk to the stool, which allows it to move efficiently through the digestive tract.
Fiber-rich foods often contain both forms in different amounts. Some good sources of fiber are:
- Whole grain products such as:
- Brown rice
- Andean millet
- Whole grain bread and cereals
Understand fiber levels on food labels
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), foods labeled as “high in fiber” must contain at least 20% of a person’s daily recommended fiber value or at least 5 g in the defined serving.
In order 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 portion.
Some snacks can help a person increase their fiber intake. The following snacks also contain good amounts of fiber along with other nutrients.
Almonds contain healthy unsaturated fats and proteins. A 1-ounce serving provides approximately 4 grams of fiber.
Opt for raw almonds and avoid those that are toasted with added flavoring, salt or sugar.
Popcorn from the air
While some popcorn is laden with butter, salt, sugar, and other unhealthy toppings, plain aired popcorn can be a healthy snack.
It is also a relatively substantial source of fiber, with 1 cup providing about 1.15 grams.
Chia seeds are a great source of fiber at around 5g per tablespoon. These seeds work well in salads, yogurt, cereal, or baked goods.
Hummus is made from chickpeas, which provide around 13 grams of fiber per cup.
A person can make hummus relatively easily at home. Or, opt for store-bought varieties that come in many flavors.
A medium-sized banana contains around 3.3 g of fiber. A person can add slices of oatmeal or combine it with peanut butter.
Many people with diabetes need to monitor their carbohydrate intake. In the list above, almonds, hummus, and chia seeds are high in fiber and lower in carbohydrates.
There are many ways to add fiber-rich foods to meals. Below are some ideas:
Oatmeal with berries
To get the most fiber from oatmeal, it’s best to choose minimally processed steel or oatmeal instead of quick-cooking items. Half a cup of oatmeal contains about 5 grams of fiber.
Covering oatmeal with berries can increase fiber intake and add sweetness. One cup of berries contains just over 3 grams of fiber.
A dark green salad
Dark greens such as spinach and kale are rich in vitamins and can form the basis for salads or side dishes.
Kale contains about 4.1 g of fiber per 100 g serving. Add an olive oil vinaigrette and a pinch of nuts, vegetables or fruits.
Sweet potatoes contain around 2.7 g of fiber per 100 g serving.
Toppings make all the difference. Opt for baked potatoes or French fries with healthy toppings like low-fat cheese or spices and herbs.
Lentils are a staple in soups and cereal dishes. They contain around 7 g of fiber per 35 g serving.
the Brussels sprouts
These contain around 3.4 g of fiber per cup. Brussels sprouts cook well in the air fryer or in the oven. Or a person could sauté them in olive oil with spices, herbs, lemon, parmesan, or garlic.
Most plant foods contain some fiber. The following are foods that are high in fiber:
Fiber can play an important role in treating type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar levels. Getting enough fiber can also lower your risk of other chronic conditions, including heart disease.
Many plant-based foods contain significant amounts of fiber and are relatively easy to incorporate into snacks and meals.
Whenever possible, opt for fresh, minimally processed foods and prepare snacks and meals at home.