7 High Fiber Gluten-Free Foods (and Why You Can’t Ignore Them)

Breakfast

By deciding to follow a gluten free diet, you lost something far more important than just some of your favorite foods. You lost the sources of most of your fiber.

But what’s so good about fiber, and why do you need it?

Fiber doesn’t serve one function specifically – it’s helpful for many reasons. In fact, it can help prevent a number of immune and gastrointestinal complications.

Interestingly, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 20-35 grams, but the average American’s intake is just 10-12 grams. So, deficiency is common in most Americans – and because celiac puts grains, cereals, and flours off-limits, it makes your job that much harder.

Fiber reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, controls high blood pressure and cholesterol lipid levels (the core component that determines your cholesterol), stabilizes weight, controls blood sugar, makes the immune system healthier, helps proper bowel function, and reduces constipation and diverticulosis, a disease of the colon.

Clearly a lack of fiber creates a serious health risk.

To help you reach your RDA in fiber (20-35 grams) and to help you protect yourself against some of the health problems described above, here are 7 suggestions to get more fiber on your gluten free diet:

  • Eat a cup of nuts as a snack each day. Almonds (unblanched, or with the skins, are best), peanuts, and pecans have the highest fiber value of all nuts. A cup of each will gives you 15, 12, and 10 grams, respectively.
  • Add berries to cereal, smoothies, or yogurt. My favorite types are blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. All natural and delicious – and they have 8, 4, 8, and 4 grams of fiber, respectively. And they all work great in cereal, smoothies, or yogurt.
  • Add flax seed to your recipes and routine. For best fiber absorption, flax seed should be ground or milled, and stored in the refrigerator after it’s opened. Flax seed is also very high in omega 3 fatty acids, another key nutrient that is lacking in people with celiac disease. It goes well in cereal, salads, or yogurt. And for the gluten free bakers out there – you can add it to muffins, cookies, breads, pancakes, or waffles. Because they mesh so well, one easy way is to add it to any gluten free recipe that contains rice bran.
  • Choose cereals with 3 or more grams of fiber per serving. With so many options for gluten free cereal emerging, it’s tempting to go for the big brands. For example, Kellogg’s just announced their new Rice Krispies Gluten Free, which I’m sure will be delicious when it comes out in June, but with just one gram of fiber, it won’t be your most nutritious option. I recommend Nature’s Path’s Mesa Sunrise with 3 grams of fiber, or even better, Enjoy Life Foods Perky’s Crunchy Flax with 6.
  • Add beans to salads, soup, or as a side dish to other meals. Beans are a fantastic source of fiber, but a little less attractive to add to your regular diet. I understand – but don’t make assumptions without trying them first. Beans are THE most fiber-dense food there is. One to two cups of beans per day will get you to your RDA: cranberry beans (18g), pinto beans (15g), garbanzo beans (13g), kidney beans (13g), navy beans (12g), white beans (11g), or soy beans (10g) are all great options.
  • Eat more veggies at and between meals. I’ve written a lot about the benefits of dark green, leafy veggies (see 3 Gluten-Free Carbs for a More Complete Diet). Peas (9g per cup), green beans (8g), and broccoli (5g) are great options, but if you don’t like green veggies, here are a few other options: squash (9g), parsnips (6g), or carrots (5g).
  • Eat fresh fruit with skins and seeds. Try raisins (7g), dried apricots (6g), apples (4g), cooked rhubarb (5g), or figs (5g). Just like I said with beans – don’t judge before you try. Test your assumptions. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Again, remember the magic number: 20-35 grams. That’s what you’re going for each day.

Like our friend Elizabeth Smith at ManageCeliac.com says, start little and try a few new foods at a time or you’ll get overwhelmed – over time you’ll see what works for you, and you’ll end up living a lot healthier and more nutritious life.

If you have preconceived notions about certain types of foods like figs or beans, test your assumptions before writing them off. It can make a big difference in your long-term quest to live a nutritious, gluten free life.

What other suggestions do you have to get more fiber as a part of your gluten free diet? Would love to hear them in the comments below!

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Comments ( 44 )

  • Bill

    Hi Kath,
    This article has lots of good ideas about GF diet.
    Bill

  • Bill

    Good Information.

  • Mattie Reposa

    Lots of great info! I like to add berries and ground almonds to my morning greek yogurt. Then I get lots of protein and fiber at the same time.

  • Signs of celiac

    how much do black & red beans have?

  • Tom

    Some good information but I don’t think anyone other than maybe an athlete in training should eat a cup of nuts daily because of it having about 800 Calories and around 80g. of fat which even if is high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated is still well over the recommended daily allowance all by itself. So a more reasonable amount would be 1/4 cup but that also reduces the fibre content by 1/4.

  • Kim Mixon

    My Doc also mentioned to me to go with your actual fruits rather than your dried fruits if you are trying to watch your weight or glycemic index/sugars too. I of course prefer the dried fruits on the run especially, and they are sweeter. Also is there an alternative to so much seeded stuff too for those of us who have been told to limit intake items with seeds in them due to diverticulitis tendencies? Excellent suggestions though, thank you!

  • Pamela Runyon

    I too have a probem with nuts and seeds. I also have towatc e intake of fruit due to diabetic issues. Is there a chewable vitiamin out there with fiber? Thanks

  • Sharla

    Flax, Flax, Flaz. This is an awsome way to get those hard to get fiber numbers, without gaining 20 lbs. a day and going into hyperglycemic coma. Try it! It doesn’t take alot, and you mix it into almost anything.

  • Teri

    Thanks for all the great tips.

  • Alice

    I understand that ground flax seed looses its benefits when heated heated. Will the benefits of flax as a fibre perhaps still be there if baking it?

    Watch out for certain seeds, like those of apples. Consumed in quantity, or if ground up, these particular seeds can give you more cyanide than you need.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Gabriele

    Another great source of fiber are chia seeds. 5 grams per tablespoon! Just soak them in some water for 5-10 minutes and then stir the chia gel in your plain greek yogurt and add some fresh fruit. 1 tablespoon of dry chia seeds are only 60 kcal and they have 3 grams of protein and 2.5 mg of Omega-3’s.
    Chia Seeds are Superfoods and I like the little crunch in my yogurt. : )

  • Isabel de los rios

    Thanks for sharing this article with us. Choose whole grain cereals, breads, and boost your fiber intake.

  • Anne

    thank you for the fiber ideas–increasing fiber is essential for me.
    Is it recommended to take a fiber supplement that you mix in water etc.

  • Carl

    The whole notion of getting lots of fibre was originally based on vegetables and not grains. So, you want more fibre, increase your veggies instead of trying to squeeze ounces/grams of fibre from grains. Research the Paleo/Primal lifestyle for a much healthier and natural gluten-free approach. There’s nothing “healthy” about healthy whole grains.

  • Carol

    Has anyone else had many of their Gluten symptoms reappear months after they have been completely GF? I started the diet the beginning of Jan 2012. I was doing fairly well, but had two setbacks. In April, I had found GF Rice Krispies, but didn’t pay attention to further purchases and soon discovered that I had been buying and eating the ‘Original’ kind! Got that taken care of and was doing really great. In August I ate a buffet (my LAST one!) at a Mexican restaurant and has really bad diarrhea for about 4 days. Didn’t think about the cross contamination between foods because people moved the serving spoons around. By mid September I was back to ‘normal’ – I had great energy, a working brain, amazing balance and NO diarrhea. On October 28th, I all those symptoms began to reappear and I KNOW I’m eating no gluten! Right now, I’m down to water and a 30mg of protein drink/day. My intestinal symptoms have been horrible along with all the above listed symptoms. I’m barely functioning! HELP!

  • Kotsu

    Not gluten? See naturopath or cert nutritionist immediately. You’ve put your body into a nutrit concentration camp. Take friend or recorder. Put transcribed notes on fridge, by sofa. Tulsi tea in AM for adrenals. Heat foods! No nuke. Request help. Sometimes this IS our learning task, to ask for & accept help. Friends, church, neighbors, older folks to boil & mash soft-cooked vegies for you: carrots, beets, squashes, broccoli, kale, spinach, etc. Beef steak for iron- pureed for now. Send to big health grocer for Power Pak (drink in water each AM), Digest Spectrum, Gluten Defense. Some variety of colon bacteria w/prebiotic. Fresh ORGANIC vegies. Nature’s Path org Buckwheat froz waffles, ghee, Nat. Path org cereal, Rice Dream, brown rice grits, organic eggs, Amy’s GF frozen dinners (Enchilada Verde? Indian Palak Paneer?), Bobs GF Cornbread mix, Wolfgang Puck’s chick wild rice soup.
    NO spicy, raw, sweet, fruit juice, pepper, greasy, dairy. DO order VSL 3 bacteria online.

  • Ronald gilletti

    can one eat ice cream that has 3 grames of fiber in it?

  • Cara

    HI: I have 3-4 liver disease, and now I got the candida. What can I eat? I am starving here. Even starch vegies are out huh.

  • Pam

    It is really hard to find recipes without gluten, dairy, and soy. I have food allergies to all of these and I have a hard time digesting roughage,( apple skins, dried fruit,gasey and bloaty foods ) sometimes it is not always easy to replace a recipes ingredients and get the dame results. Any advice?

    • SANDI

      THERE ARE SEVERAL COOKBOOKS AVAILABLE WITH THESE TYPE RECIPES…..GO TO CELIAC.COM THEY HAVE SOME…CHECK YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY–THERE ARE MULTIPLE BOOKS THERE….LIKE WEBSITES THAT RELATE TO CELIAC AND U WILL HAVE SOME INFO AVAIL….GOD BLESS.!

    • Elke

      Try the book entitled The Food Allergy Survival Guide. It has recipes that eliminate a whole host of common allergens.

  • Linda Wynn

    Does anyone know if Heather’s Tummy Fiber (with acacia senegal fiber) safe or helpful for a celiac to take? Thanks

  • Catherine B

    A cup of almonds has 800 calories. Yikes. Not a great solution.

  • Elke

    Try the Food Allergy Survival Guide. It has a host of recipes eliminating a host of common food allergens.

  • Monica

    I’m gluten, dairy, sugar, and grain free. Living Without, an allergy friendly website and magazine, to be incredibly helpful with recipes and replacement suggestions.
    Good luck everyone, happy & healthy eating.

  • Susan

    I am a newbie at GF and Soy free diet. I’ve had all tests for gastro and have had diarrhea for 2 months. I cannot eat anything without it running through me. Sorry for the graphic detail. I am now so weak and light-headed. I’ve lost about 15 pounds. I have been very careful to make my own food to assure no soy or gluten. I’ve tried to drink smoothies that are high in electrolytes and nutrition, but it doesn’t seem to have an impact. The last test they did was a stool culture, which I am waiting for the results. I am afraid that I’ve been getting no nutrition and I am fading away! Any ideas?

    • Avni Ruparell

      The first thought that comes to my mind is “leaky gut”; my mom was complaining of similar symptoms last year.
      She is on GF and Soy free diet as well but she has just started to take a small piece of plain white bread (no butter) before each meal and some other steps that are helping her a great deal.
      If white bread does not make a difference, try eating plain white cooked rice (cold) with pinch of himalayan salt before each meal ; f you eating dairy, eat white rice with home made yogurt, some freshly ground cumin and himalayan salt
      I am a holistic nutritionist.
      If you have time, email me and I can help you with some suggestions on GF diet – I have been GF for 25 years and am very familiar with all anti-inflammatory foods and how to incorporate complete protein in a vegan diet (which I think you should on at the moment).

  • Sharon

    Have you been tested for corn allergy, alpha-galactose allergy, lactose intolerance, etc? Thyroid testing? Lymph Node testing? Also, do not eat flax seed or meal, or chia seed which can contribute to loose movements. You may be able to tolerate oat bran.

    Good luck.

  • Kotsu

    The above was addressed to Carol, btw. Please keep us posted, Carol. We’ve been there! We may not know you personally, but we do care about you. A lot.

  • Elizabeth

    This is a gluten free page were whole grains breads and such are a no-no hence the host of alternative gluten free ideas.

  • Christina

    If you have a problem with seeds, nuts, etc.. Due to diverticulitis or other intestinal issues, check out the Vitamix blender. It is proven to break any food down to an absorbable level. I love mine and use it for smoothies, soups, breads, doughs and making my own flours. http://Www.Vitamix.com

  • Carydcox@yahoo.com

    Hi,
    Just a suggestion, you might want to consider taking dairy/caesin out of your diet as well. Once gluten is removed then dairy can aggravate the system. They usually go hand in hand but not always. Good luck

  • Pam

    “So Delicious” Brand offers a good tasting ice cream made with Cocnut milk. It is good, and u can add berries, or othere GF things for that homemade “Blizzard” and make it your own lspecial dessert. From 1 ICE Cream Lover to another, believe me I struggled with this one, not willing to give up this chilly dessert.

  • SANDI

    LACTOSE INTOLERANT IS THE WORD.!
    I SUFFERED A LONG TIME AND I HAD TO FIGURE IT OUT FOR MYSELF…DR. HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS CAUSING CRAMPING ETC

  • Avni Ruparell

    Carol not sure if you are ok now but start taking L-Glutamine on an empty stomach 1/2 hr before meals each day – that should help heal the SI lining- read up on it; chew raw fennel seeds and drink water soaked in fennel seeds.

    If you need more help e-mail me – have gluten free for 25 years- even before the celiac condition was even known

    Take care

    Avni

  • Sharon

    Have you had your thyroid checked for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis? Most doctors do not do this blood test. Also have you seen a food allergist? Might be worth some blood testing by a food allergist who can then refer you to a nutritionist who specializes in gluten free diets.
    Also, if you are taking any meds, you need to contact the manufacturers to learn if the meds contain gluten in the fillers.

  • Elke

    Is your protein drink truely gluten free? Are there any hidden ingredients or cross-contamination during production? Most issues are said to come from inadvertant gluten consumption. Do you have any food allergies?

    If you would like a package of information on Celiac and eating gluten free, e-mail gfingp @ yahoo.ca for a free 122 pg Guide for Gluten Free Living. Kind regards, Elke

  • Carol

    First, I want to thank all of you who replied to my post. I feel very cared for! I haven’t been getting any of the posts and just came here today due to the article about getting enough fiber on a GF Diet. I FINALLY found out what was causing all my symptoms with a follow-up Colonoscopy. I also have ‘microscopic’ (aka known as ‘collagenous’ colitis. It causes the lining of the colon to become fibrous, thus not letting nutrients be absorbed, causing ‘runny diarrhea’! SO! NO MORE FIBER!

    It occurs mostly in women over 55 and having Celiac Disease increases the chances of getting it too. Both are auto-immune diseases. Once I went back to a 1950’s ‘Wonder Bread’ diet and started taking 16 Pepto Bismol tablets a day, it all cleared up…for about 4 months, then it all started over again. I was switched to a prescription of 3 tabs of Budesonide/day. (OK I’m almost out of symbols here, so will continue this on a second post.)

  • Sharon

    Please note that most dried fruits contain sulfites and other ingredients that can affect people with auto-immune issues. Walmart sells dried cherries that include only the cherries and sugar. So ar,it’s the only dried fruit I’ve found that does not contain sulfites and other problematic ingredients.

  • Matthew Turner

    If you eat 1/4 a cup of nuts, the fiber would be diminished by 3/4, not 1/4.

  • Rachel

    [quote name="Elizabeth"]This is a gluten free page were whole grains breads and such are a no-no hence the host of alternative gluten free ideas.[/quote]

    Maybe a little research is in order – there are tons of grains (whole or not) that are gluten free.

    Teff, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, oats, amaranth, brown rice, etc.

    And coconut flour RAWKS for GF fiber content! Also oat fiber.

  • Carol

    It can have some nasty side effects – the one I was having the most trouble with was terrible ‘heartburn’! I finally figured out that if I take it at bedtime and have a snack, including some protein drink, it doesn’t happen. The biggest concern now is that it works in part because of a steroid in it. It’s ‘designed’ not to release until it gets to the colon and it then ‘tamps down the colitis and allows nutrients to once again be absorbed. I was advised to try to wean off it, one capsule at a time. However, I’ve tried 4 times to drop to 2 and the NEXT DAY I’m back where I started. So, I’m still at 3 and finally am able to live a normal life. I have developed a yeasty rash on the front of my trunk, but OTC cortisone pills takes care of the itching and stops the rash to some degree.

    I had no trouble (& still don’t) eating a GF diet, but being Fiber Free is NOT fun and most definitely NOT healthy. But would I go back to diarrhea> NOT A CHANCE!! Go figure!

  • SANDI

    AVNI, I AM INTERESTED IN KNOWLEDGE OF HOLISTIC SUPPLEMENTS….

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