High Fiber Fruit – Why You Need More in Your Diet

We know we should be eating fiber but do you think of consuming more high fiber fruit to get there? Or does the thought of those sugars scar you off?

It really shouldn’t, and in this article we’re going to see exactly why. We’ll look why your body needs fiber and why high fiber fruits are a great way to help you increase your daily fiber load as well as look at the added benefits of more fruit on your body.

Fiber has many positive effects on your body. From promoting the feeling of fullness (particularly beneficial when trying to lose weight), to reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (such as heart disease and stroke), and improving your gut flora.

Yet, the majority of us still aren’t consuming enough fibre in our diet. Many studies show that the average intake of fiber is around 15-20 grams (g) a day.

If 20-30g per day is too low, how much fiber should we be eating?

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend:

adult men – 34g depending on their age per day
adult women – 28g depending on their age per day

While the British Nutrition Foundation recommends those aged 17 and over consume 30g of fiber per day.

And, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2002), the dietary reference intake (DRI) for total fiber is 38g and 25g per day for young men (age 14-50 years) and women (age 19-50 years), respectively.

Now if your like me and currently following a whole food, plant-based diet, then we may not need to worry about fiber intake so much. Studies have found to those who follow a mainly plant-based diet tend to have a higher consumption of fiber than the average intake.

High Fiber Fruit - Why You Need More in Your Diet

What are the benefits of fiber?

Fiber has been shown to have many positive effects on our body and overall health. Below is a list of just some of the positive benefits of adding more fiber to your diet.

  • Promotes regularity
  • Helps to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids
  • Improves gut flora
  • Increases satiety
  • Reduces cravings
  • Lowers cholesterol levels
  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)
  • Slows digestion
  • Stabilises blood sugar levels
  • Lowers your risk of colorectal cancer (bowel cancer)
  • Reduces your risk of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders
  • Improves your immune function
  • Lessons hormonal imbalances

While leading authorities vary slightly with their recommendations, most of us could do with eating more fiber, and there’s no better way to do that than eating more fruit.

Fruit, with its luscious sweetness, can make any meal complete. Packed with an abundance of minerals and nutrients, why not satisfy that sweet craving by snacking on some high fiber fruit?

You can read more about the importance of fiber by checking out our article: Why is Fiber Important?

What are the benefits of fruit?

Real, whole fruits can be a great way to get in more fiber. They are nutrient dense and provide many vitamins and minerals that the body needs. These include things like vitamin C, potassium and folate. The plant compounds and nutrients found in fruit are vital for health, and the maintenance of your body. It’s also believed that fruit may help protect against certain types of cancer.

Fruits are delicious and clearly have loads of benefits for your body. Potassium, for example, can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Fruit may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help decrease bone loss as you age. The water content of fruit can help you stay well hydrated, while the phytochemicals help to promote optimum health. The folic acid in fruit assists your body with forming red blood cells.

Sometimes, I’m overwhelmed at just how amazing and powerful fruit can be. Not only do they taste delicious, but at the sheer amount of nutrients and minerals that can be found in all fruits. I’m surprised that we even need to convince people to eat more fruit. Eating plenty of fruit, such as a whole apple or some fresh raspberries, helps lower your risk of developing certain diseases and brings a powerful whack of nutrition into your life. Fruits, each of which will vary in fiber content, are such a convenient, natural and great source of additional fiber.

Studies indicate that consuming more high fiber fruits and vegetables, particularly those rich in soluble fiber, can help reduce cholesterol levels, slower the absorption of carbohydrates, aid weight loss, while also increasing satiety 1 2 3     4  (7, 8, 9, 10).

So eating plenty of high fiber fruit keeps your digestive system happy, makes you feel more energized as well as healthy. To top it all off, we haven’t even mentioned the sheer abundance of antioxidants that can be found in certain fruit. Antioxidants are great to help combat free radicals in your body. However, studies also show, on average, the majority of us are not taking in enough of these antioxidants daily.

Why are antioxidants important?

According to Dr Michael Greger, each time we digest food, free radicals are created. Years ago the food we consumed was less processed and commercialised. The majority of the sugars and starches eaten then were prepackaged with antioxidants.

He further explains when you drink an orange juice, rather than a sugary soda drink, you don’t get that level of oxidation that would occur with drinking the processed sugar drink.

It’s not only the vitamin c in the juice that is good for us, Micheal highlights citrus phytonutrients actually help to beat back oxidation. If we don’t consume phytonutrient-rich foods with meals, for example fruit, then for hours after we eat our bodies are tipped out of balance into a pro-oxidative state which can set us up for oxidant stress diseases.

The study concluded that the consumption of high antioxidant foods with each meal is recommended in order to prevent periods of postprandial oxidative stress. 5

What’s even more important is if we don’t eat enough phytonutrient foods, our body has to dip back into its back up supply of antioxidants. However, as Michael emphasises, you can only get away with this for so long. Aiming to at least break even each day would prevent us from depleting our antioxidant stores.

The estimation of how much we each need to take in seems to be dependent on the number of calories consumed throughout the day. So a woman consuming 1800 calories, for example, would approximately need 8000 mmol of antioxidants per day to help prevent the use of stored antioxidants. 6

High Fiber Fruits

How Much High Fiber Fruit Per Day?

If you’re worried about overdoing it on the fruit, don’t be.

While the USDA recommends that we consume 2 servings of high fiber fruit per day and the American Heart Foundation suggest getting in between 4 to 5 servings a day, studies to date show no adverse effect of consuming more 7. One study, in fact, demonstrated that where participants consumed 20 servings of fruit daily not only were no adverse effects found but actually the higher consumption offered some possible health benefits. 8

If you are striving for weight loss and worried about the extra sugars and calories, just remember how filling and satisfying eating a piece whole fruit is. The extra fiber in fruit can be surprisingly filling. Additionally, eating a piece of fruit can provide you with the sweet kick you may be craving.

Having a piece of fruit, particularly after a meal, takes away the sweet fix you’re looking for. High fiber fruit will help ensure that you don’t over-consume. Think about how many times you’ve eaten more than 2 whole apples for example in a row. Now can you say the same about that cookie!

On the other hand, if you’re juicing your fruit you may need to be a little bit more aware of how much and what type of fruit you’re putting into your juice. Again if we think about it, it’s very easy to drink more apples and oranges when juiced, rather than eating them in their whole form.

But this certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t juice.

Juicing, and smoothies can be another great way to get large quantities of nutrients into your body on a daily basis. But for the purpose of this article, we’ll be looking at the benefits of eating more fiber, and fiber-rich fruits in their whole form.

High Fiber Fruit - Why You Need More in Your Diet

Is natural fructose bad?

You may have heard that we need to consume less sugar. While that is indeed true, natural fructose found in fruit is not the same as industrial or added-sugars. So while fructose and high-fructose corn syrup should be avoided, not the same is said for natural fruit fructose.

Studies show the daily intake of fructose and high-fructose corn syrup is associated with declining liver function and is a risk factor for metabolic alterations. 9 Added sugars, not natural fruit fructose, is further associated with hypertension. 10

When it comes to weight loss, a study compared a diet that restricted both added sugar and fruit (low fructose diet) to one that only restricted the added sugars. It found that those who only restricted the added sugars had the better outcome with greater weight loss 11. The study stated that the different effect that natural fructose has on the body might be explained by the positive effects of other nutrients such as fiber and the antioxidants found in fresh fruit.

Michael Greger highlights another very interesting study which had twenty healthy women consume whole blackcurrants or lingonberries (150 g served as purées) or blackcurrant or lingonberry nectars (300 mL), each with 35 g added sucrose. It then compared this with the effects of drinking a glass of water with 3 tablespoons of table sugar. Sucrose alone (35 g in 300 mL water) was used as a reference.

In comparison with sucrose alone, ingestion of sucrose with whole berries resulted in reduced glucose and insulin concentrations during the first 30 min and a slower decline during the second hour and a significantly improved glycemic profile.

Berries prevented the sucrose-induced late postprandial hypoglycemic response and the compensatory free fatty acid rebound.

Nearly similar effects were observed when sucrose was consumed with berry nectars. The improved responses were evident despite the higher content of available carbohydrate in the berry and nectar meals, because of the natural sugars present in berries.

Michael explains that within 30 minutes of consuming the water-sugar mix, the participants experienced a large rise in their blood sugar levels. The body, in response, releases so much insulin, attempting to bring down that spike, that it overshoots. Within 90 minutes of initially drinking the mix, we are relatively hypoglycemic. Our blood sugars drop below the levels they were at before drinking the mix.

In response, the body dumps fat into the bloodstream as if we are starving because of our blood sugar dropping so quickly below fasting levels. However, when berries were used there was no additional blood sugar spike and no hypoglycemic dip afterwards. Blood sugar just increased and decreased but there was no overshooting or surge of fat into the blood like before.

The study concluded that blackcurrants and lingonberries, as either whole berries or nectars, optimize the postprandial metabolic responses to sucrose. The responses are consistent with delayed digestion of sucrose and consequent slower absorption of glucose 12. Great news for those of us who love munching on those berries!

Fruit

Fruit and Diabetes?

The current recommendations for diabetics are the same as the rest of the population – consume 2-4 servings of high fiber fruit per day. Medical nutrition therapy is recognized as an important treatment option in type 2 diabetes. Most guidelines recommend eating a diet with a high intake of fiber-rich food including fruit. This is based on the many positive effects of fruit on human health.

Some health professionals have concerns that fruit intake has a negative impact on glycemic control and therefore recommend restricting the fruit intake. However, a study carried out on the effect of fruit restriction on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes found that this was not necessary. It concluded that a recommendation to reduce fruit intake as part of standard medical nutrition therapy in overweight patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes resulted in eating less fruit. It had, however, no effect on HbA1c, weight loss or waist circumference.

In the outcome of this study, it was recommended that the intake of fruit should not be restricted in patients with type 2 diabetes. HbA1c (glycosylated haemoglobin) is a measure of the amount of glucose attached to the body’s red blood cells 13.

Research has also shown that when high fibre fruits are consumed in their whole form, they have little effect on blood sugar levels, while the fiber content helps to slow digestion and absorption of sugar. This thereby improves overall sugar control 14 15 16 (12, 13, 14). However, as with anything health related, always consult with your physician or registered dietitian before changing your diet.

List of high fiber fruits:

Below is a list of some high fiber fruits to make getting that extra bit of fiber even more delicious. Think of all those extra minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins you’ll also be taking in while snacking on some fruit.

The key to any healthy diet is to consume the most nutrient-dense foods daily. Therefore, always aim to take in a wide variety of fruits by picking different colors and flavors.

And remember eating foods high in fiber will have tremendous benefits for your body and long-term health. Enjoy this list of high fiber fruits, and be sure to let me know of any ones I’ve missed!

High fiber fruits:

(Amounts of dietary fiber (DF) and calories are approximations per 100g)

 

Passion Fruit – 10g DF – 97 calories

Coconut – 9g DF – 354 calories

Dates – 8g DF – 282 calories

Prunes – 7g DF – 240 calories

Avocado – 7g DF – 160 calories

Raspberries – 7g DF – 53 calories

Elderberries – 7.0g DF – 73 calories

Currants – 7g DF – 283 calories

Sapodilla – 5g DF – 83 calories

Blackberries – 5g DF – 43 calories

Breadfruit – 4.9g DF – 103 calories

Cranberries – 4.6g DF – 46 calories

Gooseberries – 4.3g DF – 44 calories

Raisins – 3.7g DF – 299 calories

Pear with the skin – 3.1g DF – 57 calories

Eggplant – 3g DF – 25 calories

Persimmon (Fuyu) – 3.6g DF – 70 calories

Kiwi – 3g DF – 61 calories

Figs – 2.9g DF – 74 calories

Star Fruit – 2.8g DF – 31 calories

Banana – 2.6g DF – 89 calories

Blueberries – 2.4g DF – 57 calories

Orange – 2.4g DF – 47 calories

Blueberries – 2.4g DF – 57 calories

Apple with the skin – 2.4g DF – 57 calories

Plantains (Cooking Proteins) – 2.3g DF – 122 calories

Strawberries – 2g DF – 33 calories

Apricot – 2g DF – 48 calories

Papaya – 1.8g DF – 39 calories

Tangerine – 1.8g DF – 53 calories

Nectarine – 1.7 DF – 44 calories

Chayotes – 1.7g DF – 19 calories

Cherries – 1.6g DF – 50 calories

Mango – 1.6g DF – 60 calories

Grapefruit – 1.6g DF – 42 calories

Peach – 1.5g DF – 39 calories

Pineapple – 1.4g DF – 50 calories

Plum – 1.4g DF – 46 calories

Cantaloupe – 0.9g – DF 34 calories

Grapes – 0.9g DF – 67 calories

Honeydew – 0.8g DF – 42 calories

Watermelon – 0.4g DF – 30 calories


 

Sources:

  1.  Brown, L., Rosner, B., Willett, W. W., & Sacks, F. M. (1999). Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition69(1), 30-42.
  2.  Weickert, M. O., & Pfeiffer, A. F. (2008). Metabolic effects of dietary fiber consumption and prevention of diabetes. The Journal of nutrition138(3), 439-442.
  3.  Slavin, J., & Green, H. (2007). Dietary fibre and satiety. Nutrition Bulletin32, 32-42.
  4.  Salas-Salvadó, J., Farrés, X., Luque, X., Narejos, S., Borrell, M., Basora, J., … & Fiber in Obesity-Study Group. (2008). Effect of two doses of a mixture of soluble fibres on body weight and metabolic variables in overweight or obese patients: a randomised trial. British Journal of Nutrition99(6), 1380-1387.
  5.  Prior, R. L., Gu, L., Wu, X., Jacob, R. A., Sotoudeh, G., Kader, A. A., & Cook, R. A. (2007). Plasma antioxidant capacity changes following a meal as a measure of the ability of a food to alter in vivo antioxidant status. Journal of the American College of Nutrition26(2), 170-181.
  6.  Prior, R. L., Gu, L., Wu, X., Jacob, R. A., Sotoudeh, G., Kader, A. A., & Cook, R. A. (2007). Plasma antioxidant capacity changes following a meal as a measure of the ability of a food to alter in vivo antioxidant status. Journal of the American College of Nutrition26(2), 170-181.
  7. Jenkins, D. J., Kendall, C. W., Popovich, D. G., Vidgen, E., Mehling, C. C., Vuksan, V., … & Corey, P. (2001). Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism-Clinical and Experimental50(4), 494-503.
  8. Meyer, B. J., De Bruin, E. J. P., Du Plessis, D. G., & Van der Merwe, M. (1971). Some biochemical effects of a mainly fruit diet in man. South African Medical Journal45(3), 253-261.
  9.  Petta, S., Marchesini, G., Caracausi, L., Macaluso, F. S., Cammà, C., Ciminnisi, S., … & Di Marco, V. (2013). Industrial, not fruit fructose intake is associated with the severity of liver fibrosis in genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C patients. Journal of Hepatology59(6), 1169-1176.
  10.  Johnson, R. J., Nakagawa, T., Sanchez-Lozada, L. G., Shafiu, M., Sundaram, S., Le, M., … & Lanaspa, M. A. (2013). Sugar, uric acid, and the etiology of diabetes and obesity. Diabetes62(10), 3307-3315.
  11. Madero, M., Arriaga, J. C., Jalal, D., Rivard, C., McFann, K., Pérez-Méndez, O., … & Johnson, R. J. (2011). The effect of two energy-restricted diets, a low-fructose diet versus a moderate natural fructose diet, on weight loss and metabolic syndrome parameters: a randomized controlled trial. Metabolism60(11), 1551-1559.
  12. Törrönen, R., Kolehmainen, M., Sarkkinen, E., Mykkänen, H., & Niskanen, L. (2012). Postprandial glucose, insulin, and free fatty acid responses to sucrose consumed with blackcurrants and lingonberries in healthy women–. The American journal of clinical nutrition96(3), 527-533.
  13. Christensen, A. S., Viggers, L., Hasselström, K., & Gregersen, S. (2013). Effect of fruit restriction on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes–a randomized trial. Nutrition journal12(1), 29.
  14.  Gray, A. (2015). Nutritional recommendations for individuals with diabetes.
  15.  Livesey, G., & Taylor, R. (2008). Fructose consumption and consequences for glycation, plasma triacylglycerol, and body weight: meta-analyses and meta-regression models of intervention studies–. The American journal of clinical nutrition88(5), 1419-1437.
  16.  Hanhineva, K., Törrönen, R., Bondia-Pons, I., Pekkinen, J., Kolehmainen, M., Mykkänen, H., & Poutanen, K. (2010). Impact of dietary polyphenols on carbohydrate metabolism. International journal of molecular sciences11(4), 1365-1402.

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