On top of their energy-revving carb, health-promoting antioxidant, and immunity-fostering vitamin C content, the magic of apples also comes from a different source: their fiber. What’s so special about this macronutrient? Besides helping us to stay “regular,” dietary fiber is also a powerful hunger zapper. By filling you up, slowing the rate at which you digest the rest of your food, and keeping your blood sugar levels stable—which maintains more consistent energy levels—high-fiber foods keep your hunger pangs from creeping up as often, which can significantly aid weight loss efforts.
As an added bonus, certain fibers can cling to dietary toxins, including cholesterol, and help eliminate them from your body. The result? A lower risk of heart disease and a longer life! Although immensely beneficial, apples aren’t the only way you can improve regularity and satiety to help blast fat. In fact, we’ve found a number of unsung superfoods that pack even more of this belly-flattening nutrient than an apple.
To compare apples to apples, we evened the playing field by keeping each food to a standard, single serving size. Below, you’ll find some of the best sources of dietary fiber, ranked in order from the least nutrient-dense to the most potent. Next time you’re at the grocery store, stock up on these items to help you keep your body goals on track. And just because these foods are high in fiber, it doesn’t mean they’re the only fiber-filled foods that are good for you. These best prebiotic foods don’t boast sky-high fiber levels, but the type they do have—prebiotic, soluble fibers—has been proven to aid in improving gut health, which has been linked to making weight loss even easier!
The Standard: An Apple
Fiber Payout: 4.4 grams per medium apple, with skin
Apples are not only an easily portable snack, but they’re also powerful fat fighters. Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN tells us they’re a great snack for people with diabetes and insulin resistance because of their high fiber content, which will help to slow blood sugar spikes. Oh, be sure to leave the skin on. Without doing so, you’ll only consume a mere 2.1 grams of dietary fiber for the same sized apple.
1. Russet Potato
Fiber Payout: 4.5 grams per medium Russet potato baked, flesh and skin
These oft-vilified spuds are singled out by carb critics unjustifiably. They might be white—which we often equate with nutrient-deficient refined carbs—but russet potatoes have a couple things going for them. For starters, they pack in a decent amount of satiating fiber. Enough so, that an Australian study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition ranked potatoes as the most filling food on the planet. If that doesn’t cut it for you, potatoes are also a great source of B vitamins and the electrolytes potassium and copper.
2. Sweet Potato
Fiber Payout: 4.5 grams per medium baked potato, flesh, and skin
Why stop at Russets? Want the same amount of fiber—which includes eating the thoroughly-scrubbed skin!—with added health benefits? Grab a sweet potato. Their orange hue signifies their amazing source of carotenoids, antioxidants which help stabilize blood sugar levels, lower insulin resistance, and help give your skin a natural glow.
3. Artichoke Hearts
Fiber Payout: 4.8 grams per ½ cup hearts, cooked
If you’re feeling ambitious, by all means, prepare this antioxidant-rich veggie fresh, but if you want a quick dose of fiber in only the amount of time it takes to unscrew a lid, we suggest opting for the jarred variety of artichoke hearts. You’ll get just under 5 grams of fiber per half a cup serving when you add these hearts to salads, pastas, or chicken dishes to keep your hunger pangs at bay.
Fiber Payout: 4.8 grams per ½ cup, cooked
It might not be the fiber superhero we were hoping for, but chickpeas are still some of the healthiest, most versatile pulses around. Sprinkle the peas into a quinoa bowl, pour a can into a curry, or blend some up into hummus or falafel. However you like it, just be sure to keep your portion under half a cup so you don’t overload on calories.
5. Whole-Grain Pasta
Fiber Payout: 4.9 grams per cup, rotini, cooked
Fiber Payout: 6.8 grams per cup, spaghetti, cooked
As you can see, the fiber count varies based on the shape of the pasta. To nab a few more benefits, whip up a whole grain spaghetti carbonara instead of pouring a bit of marinara sauce over some rotini. Either way, whole grain pastas have at least 3 more grams of the waistline-friendly nutrient than their white flour counterparts.
6. Whole Grain Breads
Fiber Payout: 4-5 grams per slice
Don’t worry. Being on a diet doesn’t mean you can no longer have a slice of bread. That’s because not all breads are the refined, white carb bombs that will more often than not seem to shatter your body goals. Picking up a whole grain bread, like any in the line of [Dave’s Killer Bread, will serve up a healthy dose of the brain-protecting B Vitamin, folate, and good-for-you grains and seeds like barley and millet.
7. Rolled Oats
Fiber Payout: 5 grams per ¼ cup dry
Faster cooking than their steel-cut counterparts, rolled oats are still a solid source of fiber. Just stray from the instant variety, which is not only rolled thinner than this variety but is also pre-cooked to break down the carbs prior to your eating it. They’re the perfect addition to overnight oats!
8. Steel-Cut Oats
Fiber Payout: 5 grams per ¼ cup, dry
Thick, coarse, steel cut oats are the least processed form of oats—made of whole oat groats roughly chopped into small pieces. That means they’re the closest thing to a whole grain, which also leaves this particular oat with the highest protein and fiber count of the bunch. Oats boast both insoluble and soluble fiber, but the soluble one is particularly beneficial. Because our bodies can’t break down soluble fiber, it takes up space in your belly without getting absorbed by your blood, leaving you fuller without the calories. Instead, it acts as a prebiotic, feeding your helpful gut bacteria so they can ferment it into anti-inflammatory compounds.
9. Chia Seeds
Fiber Payout: 5.1 grams, per Tbsp
Just a glance at what happens to chia seeds when you sprinkle them in your pudding or smoothies bowls gives you a glimpse into what happens in our bellies. These high-fiber foods expand in our gut, helping to make us feel full for few calories.
Fiber Payout: 5.1 grams per cup, cooked, chopped
Not only will broccoli’s fiber content help fill you up and clean you out, but this crucifer also possesses another powerful compound: sulforaphane. While it might be hard to pronounce, it’s benefits are clear—the chemical works on a genetic level to effectively “switch off” cancer genes, leading to the targeted death of cancer cells and slowing of disease progression. To reap the benefits, pair broccoli with a food that contains the sulforaphane-activating enzyme, myrosinase: mustard, horseradish, wasabi, or peppery arugula.
Fiber Payout: 5.2 grams per cup, cooked
We know you’ve likely eaten this ancient grain in quinoa bowls, but did you know how much protein and fiber was packed into these little granules? You can see the fiber listed above, obviously, but get this: quinoa contains more protein than an egg.
Fiber Payout: 5.5 grams per medium fruit, with skin
Just one medium fruit with the skin on is enough to fulfill a quarter of your daily needs of fiber. Fiber isn’t the only reason noshing on a pear will suppress your appetite. This fall fruit also helps to keep hunger at bay thanks to pectin, “a soluble fiber that attracts water and turns to gel, slowing down digestion,” says Jennifer Glockner, RDN, “which may help to reduce blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer.”
Fiber Payout: 5.6 grams per cup, cooked, slices
You’ll find this root vegetable next to the carrots at your grocery store—and use that market placement as a guide for how to eat them: carrot parsnip soup! The whiter version of Bugs Bunny’s favorite snack boasts a significantly greater amount of fiber, coming in at a steady 5.6 grams per cup. Either eat in the soup, or roast parsnips like you would with potatoes.
Fiber Payout: 5.6 grams per seeds in ½ pomegranate
It may boast some of the highest fiber counts (and antioxidant levels) out of all fruits, but be wary of the pomegranate fruit’s sugar content. In that ½ a fruit, there’s also nearly 20 grams of the stuff. Be sure to pair with yogurt or top on pork to get the added benefit of digestion-slowing protein.
15. Pearled Barley
Fiber Payout: 6.0 grams per cup, cooked
Add this healthy grain to your favorite soups and stews, or even feature it as a high-fiber side dish. According to Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, barley’s 6 grams of fiber is “mostly soluble fiber that has been linked to lowered cholesterol, decreased blood sugars and increased satiety.” It also has tons of health benefits like decreased inflammation and stabilized blood sugar levels. Eat it at lunch to keep your diet on track through that trying 3 pm crash.
16. Wheat Bran
Fiber Payout: 6.2 grams per ¼ cup
Oft hailed as a fiber powerhouse, wheat bran is low in calories, high in muscle-building protein and overflowing with bloat-banishing fiber. Made from the dense, outer hull of wheat grains, this slimming powder can be added to muffins, waffles, smoothies, pancakes, or homemade bread to adds a sweet, nutty flavor. If a puffy belly is your motive to indulge in the crushed grain, find out how to get rid of bloating.
17. Butternut Squash
Fiber Payout: 6.6 grams per cup, baked, cubed
Keen on improving your sight? Pick up this fall veggie, butternut squash. It’s a vitamin powerhouse, boasting high amounts of vitamin A, C, and E—all three of which are powerful antioxidants that are important for healthy eyes. Roast it up and toss in arugula, quinoa, walnuts, and an apple cider vinaigrette, or blend it into a soup with a couple of baked apples. However you like it, butternut squash is the versatile ingredient that won’t disappoint—especially on the fiber front.
Fiber Payout: 6.7 grams per ½ fruit
Besides teeming with healthy fats like the heart-healthy monounsaturated kind, avocados also pack a good dose of fiber. A more little-known fact is that they contain more bloat-banishing potassium than a banana! This well-rounded fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) is also one of the most well-utilized sources of vitamin K, a micronutrient that helps build strong bones. Reap the flat-belly benefits by throwing a few slices onto your afternoon salad, mash some on toast, or whip up a chocolate avocado chia pudding. The combination of fiber, protein, and fats will help you focus on the task at hand instead of being distracted by a rumbling tummy.
Fiber Payout: 7.1 grams per cup, cooked
Lisa Moskovitz, RD, tells Eat This, Not That! that teff is certainly earning a spot on the superfood map—and may even overtake quinoa for the top spot: “It’s a more complete amino acid-packed protein than quinoa itself,” she says. “That makes it great for anyone who wants to keep calories low and protein high.” And the benefits don’t stop there. Teff is “also a good source of fiber, in addition to containing 30 percent of your daily value of blood-pumping iron.” With more fiber and more protein comes great appetite control. Like all cereal grains, you can use teff to make a porridge or cook it like a risotto.
20. Green Peas
Fiber Payout: 7.2 grams per cup, cooked
You may only buy them when you’re looking to make fried rice or chicken pot pie, but maybe knowing that they contain a hefty 7 grams of digestive-boosting fiber may change your mind. It’s easy pea-sy to make these green peas the star of a dish. Add them to risotto with a little lemon zest, or saute them with some chicken broth, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and crispy prosciutto and then pair with one of these healthy chicken recipes.
Fiber Payout: 7.6 grams per cup
With more grams of fiber than there are grams of sugar, you can snack on these antioxidant-rich blackberries knowing they’ll be furthering your weight-loss goals. Speaking of antioxidants, blackberries are particularly high in one group in particular—anthocyanins, which also give blueberries their dark hue. These free-radical-fighting compounds have been found to help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as boost cognitive function. Add to salads, overnight oats, or blend into smoothies to reap the benefits.
22. Collard Greens
Fiber Payout: 7.6 grams per cup, cooked
You may know this leafy green as the staple vegetable of Southern U.S. cuisine, but collard greens offer more health benefits than the ham-hock-doused dish would have you believe. A recent study published in the journal Nutrition Research compared the effectiveness of the prescription drug Cholestyramine to steamed collards. Incredibly, the collards improved the body’s cholesterol-blocking process by 13 percent more than the drug! Experts attribute some of that cholesterol-lowering ability to their high fiber content, which binds to bile acids in the digestive tract, excreting them from the body.
Fiber Payout: 7.6 grams per ½ cup, cooked
If you haven’t caught on yet, legumes are quite the standouts when it comes to fiber. Lentils, in particular, are one of the most well-rounded of the bunch. Experts tout the tiny pulse for its ability to promote fat metabolism, reduce inflammation, dampen appetites, and lower cholesterol. Plus, lentils are a source of resistant starch—a slow-digesting fiber that triggers the release of acetate, a molecule in the gut that tells the brain when to stop eating. We like to eat ours by sauteing up a mirepoix of onions, carrots, and celery, adding a bit of tomato paste, tossing in our green lentils, and topping it all off with a piece of seared wild salmon.
Fiber Payout: 8.0 grams per cup
Don’t overlook the power of these berries because they’re tiny and downright delicious. On top of being one of the lowest sugar fruits, raspberries also pack in the highest fiber count of all popular fruits, to help boost feelings of satiety without doing any damage to your waistline. Eat them solo, throw them in Greek yogurt, or pair with an ounce of dark chocolate—this combo of fruit and cacao accelerates the release of butyrate, a compound made in your large intestine that tells your fat-storage genes to shut down.
Fiber Payout: 8.1 grams per cup
Don’t let your distaste for squishy tofu or food rumors about soy giving you man boobs turn you off from this protein and fiber-packed legume. Try a GMO-free package of edamame! Aside from their high fiber content, these beans are rich in energy-boosting B-vitamins, all the essential amino acids (it’s a complete protein), and muscle-building protein. Experts recommend munching on lightly salted edamame after a tough workout; Their unique nutrient profile helps replenish energy stores and build muscle mass while the sodium will help to replace lost electrolytes.
26. Split Peas
Fiber Payout: 8.1 grams per ½ cup, cooked
The dried and halved version of those little green guys you may have pushed around your plate as a kid, split peas are an even better source of fiber per serving. Use them in the age-old classic split pea soup, or try them in a pulse recipe!
Fiber Payout: 8.2 grams per cup, cooked
Sick of quinoa, pasta, and rice? Integrate bulgur into your diet. Use it in a simple tabbouleh—a staple of Mediterranean cooking—by simply combining a serving of bulgur with lots of chopped parsley, garlic, diced tomatoes, and a little olive oil and lemon juice. This cereal is one of the most fibrous foods you can keep in your pantry to pull together a nutritious side dish on the fly.
28. Black Beans
Fiber Payout: 8.3 grams per ½ cup cooked
Why are “beans, beans!” so good for your heart? They’re a great source of soluble fiber: a class of carbs which can bind to cholesterol and its precursors in your digestive system and expel them before they make their way into your blood circulation, where they may form blood clots that lead to heart attacks and stroke. Add black beans to your breakfast burrito, salad at lunch, a cheesy quesadilla, or a vegetarian enchilada dish.
29. Acorn Squash
Fiber Payout: 9.0 grams per cup, cubed, baked
This naturally sweet winter squash will do more than just fill you up with satiating fiber; It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C—with one cup providing about 37 percent of your daily needs. Your body uses this micronutrient to metabolize protein, form strong muscle fibers, and even boost the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to Arizona State University researchers. Add it to your diet by roasting a halved and gutted squash drizzled with olive oil and cinnamon in a 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.
30. Navy Beans
Fiber Payout: 9.6 grams per ½ cup, cooked
A staple of many soup recipes, navy beans are delicious, cheap, and contain one of the highest fiber contents per serving of all whole foods. If gut-friendly fiber wasn’t enough for you, that same half a cup of beans also dishes out 7 grams of protein—the nutrient which will help you tone your muscles and fend off belly fat accumulation. Besides adding them to soup or chili, serve them on a slice of sprouted whole grain toast mixed with some olive oil, rosemary, and garlic as a hearty snack.