The Best High-Fibre Foods For Diabetes: Nutrition, Benefits & Beyond

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Fiber Foods for Diabetes
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Fibre! People cannot stop talking about it whenever someone mentions a healthy diet. If we were to elaborate on its health benefits, it would take up pages and hours. But high-fibre foods for diabetes? Is there a beneficial connection? Is fibre recommended for diabetics? Let’s find out. 

Contents:
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What is Fibre?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How do Foods That Contain High Fibre Benefit Diabetics?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    High-Fibre Diet: Foods for Diabetics
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How Much Daily Fibre Intake is Recommended in Diabetes?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What are the Risks of Overconsumption of Fibre in Diabetes?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What are the Other Benefits of a High-Fibre Diet?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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What is Fibre?

Dietary fibre, also called roughage, bulk, or simply ‘fibre’ is a type of indigestible carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. Unlike other carbohydrates, fibre cannot be broken down into sugar molecules and passes through the body undigested. Fibre is of two types:

  • Soluble Fibre

This type of fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. It can effectively lower your blood glucose and cholesterol levels. 

Foods that are rich in soluble fibre include nuts, peas, beans, lentils, chia seeds, oats, apples, and blueberries.

  • Insoluble Fibre

Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water. It absorbs water, swells up, and promotes the movement of food through your digestive system. It improves digestion, increases the bulk of stools, and promotes healthy bowel movements. Consuming foods rich in insoluble fibre can help prevent constipation and other problems with digestion. 

Foods with insoluble fibre include whole brown rice, legumes, wheat products (especially wheat bran), quinoa, leafy greens like kale, seeds, almonds, walnuts, and fruits with edible skins like pears and apples.

How do Foods That Contain High Fibre Benefit Diabetics?

Fibre is not broken down or absorbed by your digestive system and therefore it does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels after consumption unlike other forms of carbohydrates. 

Foods that are high in fibre generally have a low glycemic index (GI, a value assigned to a particular food based on how quickly it raises your blood glucose levels after consumption). This is because they do not contain high amounts of digestible carbohydrates and thus take longer for the body to digest. This results in a slower digestion process and a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. Thus, high-fibre foods are suitable for consumption by diabetics

High-fibre foods also tend to be more filling as fibre absorbs water and increases in volume in the stomach. It thus keeps you full for long periods, avoiding the need for frequent snacking and lowering your calorie intake. 

Note that fibre is only found in plant-based foods, and high-fibre foods tend to be low in fat and calories. Further, high-fibre foods can take longer to chew, which gives your body more time to realise when you are full and can help prevent overeating. These factors make fibre a healthy choice for diabetics. Let’s take a look at some high-fibre foods that you can include in your daily diet.

High Fibre Diet: Foods For Diabetics

Here is how to increase the fibre content in your daily diet:

  • Have High-Fibre Fruits:

Fruits are a good source of fibre and are also rich in antioxidants, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Not all fruits are equal in terms of their fibre content and therefore it is important that you choose the right fruits to boost your fibre intake. 

The high-fibre fruits that you can choose from include berries such as raspberries and strawberries (8 grams of fibre per cup), tropical fruits such as mangoes and passion fruit (5 to 25 grams of fibre per cup), and others fruits such as apples (1 medium apple with skin, 4.4 grams of fibre), prunes (8 grams of fibre per cup), and avocados (7 grams of fibre per cup).

  • Choose Non-Starchy Vegetables: 

Vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also a rich source of fibre. Vegetables are of two types: starchy and non-starchy. Starchy vegetables are high in carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables are low in carbohydrates. 

Therefore, diabetics can go for non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and celery as a part of their diet. You can cook and add them to your meals or eat them as salads. Typically, a half-cup of cooked or 1 cup of raw non-starchy vegetables contains around 3 grams of fibre.

  • Have More of Whole Grains: 

Whole grains are a good source of fibre. Whole grains or food made from them contain all the essential parts of the naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions.

Some of the whole grains that you can include in your daily diet include rice, millets, oats, quinoa, corn, and barley. One serving (about 16 grams) of whole grains contains around 3 grams of fibre.

  • Add More Legumes to Your Diet: 

Legumes form a staple part of the diet in many Indian homes and are a rich source of fibre. Some of the common edible legumes include beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts. They can easily be included\ in your daily meals, salads, or snacks. A serving of 100 grams of legumes contains about 5 grams of fibre.

  • Snack on Nuts and Seeds: 

Nuts and seeds are a rich source of dietary fibre, proteins, and healthy fats. Making them a regular part of your diet will help you in managing your body weight and also in managing chronic conditions such as diabetes. 

You can consume nuts such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, and Brazil nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sesame seeds as a part of your regular diet. A serving of 100 grams of nuts or seeds contains approximately 6 to 7 grams of fibre.

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How Much Daily Fibre Intake is Recommended in Diabetes?

Children and adults need about 25 to 35 grams of fibre per day for good health. Also, try to limit your fibre consumption to 70 grams a day.

Let’s take a look at the total fibre content in some common food items:

Fruits

Serving Size

Total Fibre 

Banana

1 Medium

0.3 g

Orange 

1 Medium

0.3 g

Apple (with skin)

1 Medium

4.5 g

Vegetables

Serving Size

Total Fibre 

Sweet corn, boiled

1 Cup

3.5 g

Cauliflower, raw

1 Cup, chopped

2.0 g

Carrot, raw

1 Medium

1.5 g

Grains

Serving Size

Total Fibre 

Barley, pearled, cooked

1 Cup

6.0 g

Brown rice, cooked

1 Cup

3.5 g

Bread, whole wheat

1 Slice

2.0 g

What are the Risks of Overconsumption of Fibre in Diabetes?

Consuming more than 70 grams of fibre a day can lead to unwanted side effects such as:

  • Bloating 
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Changes in body weight
  • Intestinal blockage in some cases

What are the Other Benefits of a High Fibre Diet?

  • Boosts Bowel Health: Dietary fibre increases the bulk of your stools and softens it. Bulky stools are easier to pass. Thus, fibre reduces the risk of constipation and other digestive problems.
  • Lowers Cholesterol Levels: Soluble fibre helps reduce the absorption of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol in the body. Fibre binds with cholesterol in the intestines and prevents it from being absorbed. High-fibre foods thus reduce the risk of high blood pressure and boost your heart health. 
  • Helps in Weight Loss: High-fibre foods keep you full for longer and helps you avoid frequent snacking. This lowers your total calorie intake and aids in weight loss. 

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that your body cannot digest. It cannot be broken down into sugar molecules and instead passes through the body undigested. Fibre is of two types, soluble and insoluble (does not dissolve in water). 
  • Foods that are high in fibre generally have a low glycemic index (GI, a value assigned to a particular food based on how quickly it raises your blood glucose levels after consumption). 
  • They do not contain high amounts of digestible carbohydrates and thus take longer for the body to digest. This results in a slower digestion process and a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. 
  • High fibre foods that you can include in your daily diet include whole grains, fruits (such as berries and apples), non-starchy vegetables (such as broccoli and spinach), legumes (such as beans and lentils), and nuts and seeds (such as cashews, almonds and chia seeds). 
  • Children and adults need about 25 to 35 grams of fibre per day for good health. Also, try to limit your fibre consumption to 70 grams a day to avoid any unwanted side effects.
  • Overconsumption of fibre can lead to bloating, gas, stomach cramps, constipation or diarrhoea. 
  • Other than lowering your blood sugar levels, fibre also helps in boosting your digestive health, lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and weight loss. 
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading diabetologists, order medicines, book lab tests, integrate blood sugar monitoring and other devices to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Also, check out our Diabetes Management Program which provides ‎360º care. Let’s treat diabetes together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Both soluble and insoluble fibre helps lower blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre, a type of fibre that dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance slowing down digestion. It thus prevents a spike in your blood sugar levels. Insoluble fibre is a type of fibre that does not dissolve in water and helps control your blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity.

It is ok to consume bananas for diabetes, but they should be eaten in moderation. Despite being a healthy fruit, bananas are high in carbohydrates and sugar, the main nutrients that raise blood sugar levels. However, bananas also contain some fibre, which could help the sugars in bananas be more slowly digested and absorbed, thus preventing sudden blood sugar spikes. To enjoy bananas as a diabetic, watch your portion size, spread your fruit intake throughout the day, and combine bananas with other foods such as nuts or yoghurt to slow the digestion and absorption of sugars.

Fibre does not raise blood sugar levels. In fact, it plays an important role in controlling your blood sugar levels. Fibre is not broken down in the body into sugar molecules, unlike other carbohydrates. Thus, it does not raise your blood sugar levels, keeps you full for long periods, and lowers your calorie intake. 

Foods that are high in fibre include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Having high-fibre foods for diabetes is a smart way to control your sugar levels and the associated risks.

Eggs are not a good source of fibre. If you want to make your eggs fibre-rich, you can toss in some chopped veggies such as spinach, broccoli, carrots, or capsicum while cooking your eggs.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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