Dietary fiber is the carbohydrate in plants that your body cannot digest.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber help bulk up your stools and can be used as a food source for good bacteria in your large intestine.
Soluble fiber draws water into your gut, which softens your stools and supports regular bowel movements.
It not only helps you feel fuller and reduces constipation, but may also lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels (3).
Here are 20 healthy foods that are high in soluble fiber.
Black beans are not only a great way to give your dishes a meaty texture, they’re also an amazing source of fiber.
Black beans contain pectin, a form of soluble fiber that becomes gummy-like in water. This can delay stomach emptying and makes you feel fuller longer, giving your body more time to absorb nutrients (5).
Black beans are also rich in protein and iron, low in calories and almost fat-free (4).
Soluble fiber content: 5.4 grams per three-quarter cup (129 grams) of cooked black beans (6).
Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are large, flat, yellow-white beans.
They mainly contain carbs and protein as well as a little fat.
They’re lower in total dietary fiber than black beans but their soluble fiber amount is almost identical. Lima beans also contain the soluble fiber pectin, which is associated with reducing blood sugar spikes after meals (5).
Raw lima beans need to be soaked in water for at least 10 minutes to release a toxic substance. However, canned beans should not require soaking.
Soluble fiber content: 5.3 grams per three-quarter cup (128 grams) of lima beans (6).
The world may be divided into Brussels sprout lovers and haters, but whatever side you’re on, it’s undeniable that this vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals, along with various cancer-fighting agents.
What’s more, Brussels sprouts are a great source of fiber, with 4 grams per cup (156 grams) (7).
The soluble fiber in Brussels sprouts can be used to feed beneficial gut bacteria. These produce vitamin K and B vitamins, along with short-chain fatty acids that support your gut lining.
Soluble fiber content: 2 grams per half cup (78 grams) of Brussels sprouts (6).
Avocados originate from Mexico but have gained popularity all over the world.
Haas avocados are the most common type. They’re an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, potassium, vitamin E and dietary fiber.
Rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, avocados really stand out in this regard.
Compared to other popular fiber sources, they contain lower amounts of the antinutrients phytate and oxalate, which can reduce mineral absorption (10).
Soluble fiber content: 2.1 grams per half an avocado (6).
There are many different names for sweet potatoes, such as yams in North America or kumara in New Zealand.
What’s more, the average potato contains about 4 grams of fiber, of which almost half is soluble (11).
Therefore, sweet potatoes can contribute significantly to your total soluble fiber intake.
Soluble fiber may be important for weight management. The more of it you eat, the greater the release of gut-satiety hormones, which may help reduce your overall appetite (12).
Soluble fiber content: 1.8 grams per half cup (150 grams) of cooked sweet potato (6).
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that grows well in cool seasons. It’s usually dark green but you can also find purple varieties.
Broccoli is a good source of dietary fiber, with 2.6 grams per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), of which more than half is soluble (13).
The high amount of soluble fiber in broccoli can support your gut health by feeding good bacteria in your large intestine. These bacteria produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate and acetate.
Soluble fiber content: 1.5 grams per half cup (92 grams) of cooked broccoli (6).
Turnips are root vegetables. Larger varieties are usually fed to livestock but the smaller types are a great addition to your diet.
The most abundant nutrient in turnips is potassium, followed by calcium and the vitamins C and K (15).
Soluble fiber content: 1.7 grams per half cup (82 grams) of cooked turnips (6).
Pears have a crisp and refreshing taste and are a decent source of vitamin C, potassium and various antioxidants (16).
What’s more, they’re an excellent source of fiber, with 5.5 grams in one medium-sized fruit. Soluble fiber contributes 29% of the total dietary fiber content of pears, the main form being pectin (16, 17).
Due to their high fructose and sorbitol contents, pears can sometimes have a laxative effect. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may need to be careful with the amount you eat (16).
Soluble fiber content: 1.5 grams per medium-sized pear (6).
Their characteristic shape gave kidney beans their name.
They’re a key ingredient in chili con carne and a great source of dietary fiber, complex carbs and protein. They’re also almost fat-free and contain some calcium and iron (18).
Kidney beans are a good source of soluble fiber, particularly pectin.
However, some people find beans hard to digest. If that’s the case for you, start increasing your kidney bean intake slowly to avoid bloating.
Soluble fiber content: 3 grams per three-quarter cup (133 grams) of cooked beans (6).
Figs were one of the first cultivated plants in human history.
They’re highly nutritious, containing calcium, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins and other nutrients.
Both dried and fresh figs are great sources of soluble fiber, which slows down the movement of food through your intestines, allowing more time for nutrient absorption (19).
Based on anecdotal evidence, dried figs have been used as a home remedy to improve constipation for years. While one study found that fig paste improved bowel movements in constipated dogs, human-based research is lacking (20).
Soluble fiber content: 1.9 grams per one-fourth cup (37 grams) of dried figs (6).
Nectarines are stone fruits that grow in warm, temperate regions. They’re similar to peaches, but don’t have the same characteristic fuzzy skin.
Soluble fiber content: 1.4 grams per medium-sized nectarine (6).
Apricots are small, sweet fruits that range in color from yellow to orange, with the occasional red tinge.
They’re low in calories and a good source of vitamins A and C (23).
In Asia, apricots have been used in folk medicine for years and it’s believed that they can protect people from heart disease (24).
They may also help your digestion. One study found that mice eating fiber from apricots had higher stool weights than those who received insoluble fiber alone (24).
Soluble fiber content: 1.4 grams per three apricots (6).
Carrots are one of the most popular and tasty vegetables on Earth.
Boiled or steamed, carrots are a key ingredient to many dinners but they can also be grated into salads or used to make desserts like carrot cake.
With good reason, you may have been told as a child to eat up your carrots to help you see in the dark.
Carrots are packed with beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A. This vitamin supports your eyes and is particularly important for night vision (25).
One cup (128 grams) of chopped carrots contains 4.6 grams of dietary fiber, of which 2.4 are soluble (26).
Since many people enjoy this vegetable daily, it can be a key source of soluble fiber.
Soluble fiber content: 2.4 grams per cup (128 grams) of cooked carrots (6).
Apples are one of the most commonly eaten fruits in the world. Most varieties are quite sweet but some like the cooking apple Granny Smith can be very sour.
Apples pack various vitamins and minerals and are a good source of the soluble fiber pectin. Apple pectin may have many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and improving gut function (28, 29).
Soluble fiber content: 1 gram per medium-sized apple (6).
Guavas are a tropical fruit native to Mexico as well as Central and South America. Their skin is typically green, while the pulp can range from off-white to deep-pink in color.
It has been shown to reduce blood sugar as well as total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels in healthy people. In part, this may be due to the soluble fiber pectin, which can delay the sugar absorption in your body (31).
Soluble fiber content: 1.1 grams per one raw guava (6).
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are tiny brown, yellow or golden seeds.
They pack a nutritious punch and can be a great way to improve the nutrient content of your smoothies, breads, cereals or bliss balls.
Sprinkling one tablespoon of flaxseeds over your porridge can add an extra 3.5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein to your breakfast. They’re also one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fats (32).
If possible, soak your flaxseeds overnight, as this allows the soluble fiber to combine with water to form a gel, which may aid digestion.
Soluble fiber content: 0.6–1.2 grams per tablespoon (14 grams) of whole flaxseeds (6).
Sunflower seeds are a great nutritious snack and are often purchased already deshelled to reveal the tasty sunflower heart.
They contain about 3 grams of dietary fiber per one-fourth cup, of which 1 gram is soluble. What’s more, they’re rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, magnesium, selenium and iron (6, 33).
Soluble fiber content: 1 gram per one-fourth cup (35 grams) of sunflower seeds (6).
Hazelnuts are a delicious type of nut that can be eaten raw or roasted for a stronger flavor. They’re also often used as an ingredient in chocolate bars and spreads.
Hazelnuts, in part due to their soluble fiber content, may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol (35).
Soluble fiber content: 1.1 gram per one-fourth cup (34 grams) of hazelnuts (6).
Oats are one of the most versatile and healthy grains around. You can use them to make breakfast cereals, breads, scones, flapjacks or fruit crumbles.
They contain beta-glucan, a form of soluble fiber that is associated with reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol and improved blood sugar control. It’s estimated that 3 grams of beta-glucan per day can reduce your risk of heart disease (36, 37).
Beta-glucan is also what gives porridge its characteristic creamy texture.
Soluble fiber content: 1.9 grams per cup (233 grams) of cooked oats (6).
Some people may associate barley primarily with the brewing industry, but this nutritious, ancient grain is also often used to thicken soups, stews or risottos.
Like oats, it contains about 3.5–5.9% of the soluble fiber beta-glucan, which has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease (41).
Other forms of soluble fiber in barley are psyllium, pectin and guar gum (41).
Soluble fiber content: 0.8 grams per half cup (79 grams) of cooked barley (6).
Soluble fiber is great for your gut and overall health, reducing your risk of heart disease by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and helping you balance your blood sugar levels.
If you want to increase your soluble fiber intake, it’s often best to start slowly and build it up gradually.
It’s also a good idea to drink plenty of water. This will help the soluble fiber form a gel, which aids digestion.
All fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes contain some soluble fiber, but certain foods like Brussels sprouts, avocados, flaxseeds and black beans are the cream of the crop.