This article has been updated since its initial publication on June 25, 2022.
An understandable concern that many people have when trying to prioritize their gut health and/or lose weight is that they will have to limit or stop eating some of their favorite foods. While some foods high in fats, carbs, or sugars are certainly more harmful than others when it comes to deterring your health goals, there are still plenty of fiber-rich options that will support smoother digestion!
We asked health experts for 4 must-have foods that contain fiber to help you maintain a healthy gut and weight, and that don’t contain ingredients that may delay your weight loss progress. Read on for suggestions and tips from Registered Dietitians on promoting fiber Amy Richter, MS, RDN and Dana Ellis HunnesPhD, MPH, RD, nutritionist Island Zyer, and health and nutrition specialist Dr. Rudolf ProbstMD
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Raspberries & Greek Yogurt
Snacking on raspberries throughout the day can provide you with many benefits for your overall health and gut health, as well as support for your weight loss goals. “Raspberries are among the most fiber-rich fruits,” says Richter. She explains that 1 cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber. “That’s nearly 30 percent of your fiber needs for the day,” she says, making it a great choice for a healthy snack that can satisfy your sweet tooth without worrying about weight gain. She notes that fruits like raspberries are your “best bet for high-fiber foods that won’t push you beyond your calorie limit for weight loss.” Hunnes agrees, and says adding berries to “unsweetened (or lightly sweetened) non-dairy yogurt like soy yogurt” can be a fun way to present this high-fiber snack. Yogurt (and especially Greek yogurt) has long been linked to healthier digestion and gut health.
Not to be confused with oatmeal, oat bran is made into many cereals and other food products and actually contains higher nutritional benefits than the former, Zyer says. “Oat bran comes from the outer part of the oatmeal, just under the shell. This part is removed when turning the oats into oatmeal to make the final product easier to cook,” says Zyer. “Oat bran has about the same carbs as regular oatmeal, but it’s lower in calories and higher in fiber.” Zyer also notes that 100 grams of oat bran contains up to 15 grams of dietary fiber, “which is 60 percent of the required daily value” (based on a 2,000 calorie diet).
When skipping heavy butters or other common additives, popcorn on its own can be a healthy, filling snack with plenty of fiber on offer. Popcorn, Hunnes says, is a whole grain, and she notes that “the key” to healthy snacking with popcorn and other foods is to “keep snacking at 150-200 calories and get a lot of nutrients for the calories”. Probst agrees, saying “popcorn is a whole grain with a higher fiber content, so you can eat a lot of popcorn without worrying about adding weight.”
“Chia seeds are high in protein and fiber,” Probst says, noting that they have “soluble fiber” that bulks up fluid and “swells in the stomach, making it full” longer. Essentially, it’s a great snack that not only helps your digestive system, but can also prevent you from snacking more than you originally intended! Experts note that 1 ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contains almost 10 grams of dietary fiber, which means they contain 35% essential fiber by weight.
In conclusion, Hunnes says, “High-fiber snacks that are minimally processed and full of protein and healthy plant fats are the ones you can safely eat without gaining weight.” These choices in particular are also great for your gut health and smoother digestion. That applies to the 4 healthy, tasty, and versatile foods on this list: raspberries, oat bran, plain popcorn, and chia seeds!