Many of us have been brainwashed to think that fiber is only in grains and beans. But this is simply not true. There are many fruits and vegetables that have fiber, therefore there are lots of paleo foods high in fiber!
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Even the folks at Harvard University seem to be a little confused by the Paleo diet and its fiber content, and they contradict themselves in this online article.
The article initially states in the 5th paragraph that the Paleo diet is “high in fiber.”
But then further down in the “Potential Pitfalls” section it says, ” Furthermore, the exclusion of whole grains can result in reduced consumption of beneficial nutrients such as fiber…”
Its kind of weird that in one paragraph they say the Paleo diet is high in fiber, and then in another paragraph they say ,”…can result in reduced consumption of beneficial nutrients such as fiber…”
How much fiber should I eat in a day?
According to the Institute of Medicine (c/o WebMD):
Women should consume 25 grams per day of fiber and men should consume 38 grams per day.
(Some doctors such as Dr. Mark Hyman say you should aim for even higher.)
The Cleveland Clinic says of this daily fiber intake, 10-15 grams of it should be “soluble” fiber. More on this below, but soluble fiber is fiber that turns into a gel-like substance when combined with water. (This is the form of fiber that can reduce cholesterol.)
This article from Functional Medicine doctor, Dr. Mark Hyman states that modern Americans only eat about 8 grams of fiber per day on the Standard American Diet.
Contrast this to our hunter-gatherer ancestors who ate about 100 grams of fiber per day.
We eat vastly less fiber than our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
What Paleo foods are high in fiber?
On a Paleo diet you avoid grains and beans of all kinds. So you don’t get fiber from these sources.
But this does NOT mean your diet will be devoid of fiber.
There is fiber in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
There is both soluble and insoluble fiber in fruits and vegetables (more on that below).
When I recommend the Paleo diet to someone I suggest they eat a lot of vegetables.
And the medical doctor Dr. Wahls in her book “The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles” recommends that people eat 9 cups of vegetables per day on her Paleo protocol.
(That is an affiliate link but I highly recommend you get the book especially if you have an autoimmune condition.)
So yes, it is important to eat your veggies on a Paleo diet.
List of Paleo Foods that are high in fiber
Below is a list of fruits and vegetables (great Paleo foods) that contain fiber, and how much. The reference I used for this list is from the University of Michigan in the USA unless otherwise stated.
To get adequate dietary fiber on a Paleo diet it will require you to eat more vegetables than you are currently eating if you’re on a “standard american diet.”
Fiber Content in Common Vegetables
- Artichoke: 1 medium boiled artichoke has 6.2 grams of fiber
- Pumpkin: 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin has 5 grams of fiber
- Winter squash: 1/2 cup has 3 grams of fiber
- Broccoli: 1/2 cup of boiled broccoli has 2.3 grams of fiber
- Carrot: 1 medium carrot has 2 grams of fiber
- Cauliflower: 1/2 cup of boiled cauliflower is 1.7 grams of fiber
- Spinach: 1/2 cup of raw spinach is 0.8 grams of fiber
- Lettuce: 1/2 cup of lettuce pieces is 0.5 grams of fiber
Click here to see the fiber content of even more vegetables.
Fiber Content in Fruits
Fruits do contain fiber, and you should eat them with the skin on when applicable.
- Apples (skin on): 1 medium apple provides 3.7 grams of fiber
- Blackberries: 100 grams provides 5.3 grams of fiber (different resource)
- Raspberries: 1 cup provides 8.4 grams of fiber
- Blueberries: 1 cup of raw blueberries provides 4 grams of fiber
- Pear: 1 medium pear provides 4 grams of fiber
Click here to see the fiber content of even more fruits.
You’ll notice the lower-sugar fruits like the berries (raspberries, blackberries & blueberries) are all good sources of fiber.
And they’re great sources of antioxidants too.
Fiber Content in Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds were also eaten by our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
Nuts and seeds contain fiber too. The following information I found on the Linus Pauling Institute website.
- Almonds: 1 ounce (28 grams) provides 3.5 grams of fiber
- Pecans: 1 ounce has 2.7 grams of fiber
- Hazelnuts: 1 ounce also has 2.7 grams of fiber
- Chia seeds: 1 ounce has 11 grams of fiber (Reference)
As you can see Chia seeds are high in fiber.
You can make them into a great Paleo dessert, called Chia Seed Pudding. (Check out this online article for 8 Chia Seed Pudding recipes.)
Another seed that is high in fiber is hemp seeds.
Soluble fiber vs. Insoluble fiber (what’s the difference?)
There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber turns to a gel-like substance when combined with water (it dissolves in water).
- Soluble fiber helps to reduce cholesterol and improve heart health. (Reference here)
- Soluble fiber can help make you feel “fuller” after you eat, so it can help you lose weight and keep at a healthy weight. (Reference)
- Soluble fiber can help regulate hormone levels (Reference)
According to WebMD, it says that nuts, seeds, apples, blueberries and pears are all good sources of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber does not mix with water: think “roughage”
The insoluble fiber can provide some bulk in your stool so it’ll help with bowel regularity.
(Large stool presses outward against the bowels triggering our body to go #2…kind of like saying, “hey I feel something in here pressing against me, lets get it out.”)
Cabbage and celery are two vegetable sources of insoluble fiber. (Reference)
Do veggies have soluble or insoluble fiber?
According to the Linus Pauling Institute at the Oregon State University, most plants have a combination of both soluble and insoluble fibers.
Will I get enough fiber on a Paleo Diet?
As Dr. Mark Hyman pointed out, our hunter-gatherer ancestors were thought to consume about 100 grams of fiber per day.
So if we are trying to emulate our ancestors by eating more nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, then we should get above the recommended daily intake of fiber.
Most people on Paleo diet who appropriately increase their vegetable intake will find that their digestive system and bowel movements are greatly improved over the standard American diet.
What if I have a poor diet now?
If people are just starting the Paleo diet and they currently don’t eat many vegetables, then a sudden increase in veggies may make them gassy or bloated.
If this sounds like you, then you may need to ease into it a bit.
By that I mean you may need to slowly increase your vegetable intake over the first couple weeks of adopting the Paleo diet.
And remember to drink lots of water too.
Within a couple days of eating Paleo many people notice most of their previous flatulence (farting), and bloating will be gone.
I hope this article has helped you see what paleo foods are high in fiber.
Other Paleo Diet Articles you may enjoy:
- What to Eat on a Paleo Diet (and what to Avoid)
- Is the Paleo Diet a Keto Diet?
- Yummy Paleo Salmon Cakes