Gluten-Free Sources of Fiber

8 Ways to Bulk Up Your Diet without Whole Wheat

The standard advice for increasing fiber in the diet is to eat more healthy whole grains. But what if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and need to steer clear of grains that contain gluten? There are some gluten-free whole grain products on the market, but they generally don't offer huge amounts of fiber.

This is not a problem. There are plenty of other fiber-rich foods to choose from—primarily vegetables and beans that also offer up additional nutritional benefits. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says women should get 25 grams of fiber each day and men should get 38 grams. Here are 8 food to help you get the recommended amount of fiber in your diet if you're gluten-free. 

1

Beans and Legumes

beans on spoons
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Many types of beans are loaded with fiber. Just one cup of black beans, pinto beans, or kidney beans offers nearly 20 grams. Garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) have 12 grams per cup, while green peas are more than 13 grams a cup. Lentils, lima beans, and butter beans contain half the fiber or less than some of their legume cousins. 

Beyond fiber, beans are a terrific source of plant-based protein, making them a staple for vegetarians and vegans. Beans also contain a hefty dose of potassium, a nutrient your body uses to regulate fluid levels and maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Lima beans, for example, contain about 955 mg of potassium per cup, which represents one-fourth of your daily recommended potassium intake. Beans also contain such nutrients as phosphorus and magnesium.

To use beans, consider making a three- or four-bean salad with a rainbow of different beans, or make barbecue baked beans from scratch.

There's one potential caveat: Bean crops often are rotated with grain crops, exposing beans to gluten before they're even picked. If you find beans make you sick, gluten cross-contamination may be why. 

2

Leafy Greens

greens
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Raw or cooked, dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, and collard greens are great sources of fiber. Turnip greens have the most—5.5 grams per cup.

Leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses: Although they're very low in calories (depending on how they're cooked, of course), they provide minerals such as iron and calcium, plus vitamins K and C, which your body needs.  

To eat more greens, consider juicing kale or making this kale and potato hash. Spinach under eggs is a great (anytime) breakfast dish, and smoky collards and chickpeas uses both greens and beans for a one-two fiber punch.

You'll also get a healthy dose of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, by including greens in your diet. Here's a tip: The darker the leaves, the more beta-carotene. ​

3

Coconut

coconut
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A cup of shredded coconut has around 7 grams of fiber, so a healthy sprinkle of unsweetened coconut on, say, a fruit salad will significantly contribute to your daily fiber intake. If you aren't a fan of the flavor of coconut, try baking with coconut flour: half a cup has almost 30 grams of fiber.

Coconut contains more than just fiber; it also provides calcium, magnesium, and potassium, plus a small amount of iron. Note that coconut also contains a high level of saturated fat, so use it sparingly if you're trying to cut down on fat in your diet.

For a delicious gluten-free dessert made with coconut flour, try this low-carb, sugar-free, and gluten-free coconut cake recipe.

4

Corn

Germany, Saxony, Fresh corn cob on tree
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You may regard corn as a vegetable, but in fact, it's a fiber-rich grain. And although corn does contain gluten, it's not the same kind that's dangerous for people with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity. If you eat it on the cob, you'll score 5 grams of fiber per ear of corn. A cup of shucked corn has around 12 grams. 

Corn has played a role in human nutrition for thousands of years, and adds vitamin C, magnesium, B vitamins, and potassium to your diet. Its high levels of complex carbohydrates make you feel full for longer.

Corn on the cob is one of the easiest foods to make: simply drop ears of fresh corn into boiling water, bring the water to a second boil, and then turn off the heat and cover the pot for five minutes. But if you want to get more elaborate, this light and easy Mexican street corn recipe serves as a delicious twist on fresh corn. 

5

Artichokes

Close-Up Of Artichokes For Sale At Market
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It can take a bit of work to eat an artichoke—so many leaves before you get to the heart. But after you've done it, you'll have downed nearly 5 grams of fiber. Of course, there's an easier way: Buy artichoke hearts. A small handful in a salad will boost the fiber count by 7 or 8 grams. 

Like many of our other high-fiber foods, artichokes contain plenty of potassium: 13% of your daily requirement for each artichoke. They also contain a few grams of protein, plus vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin B6.

Many people are a little intimidated by artichokes, but they're actually quite simple to prepare and eat. Use a steamer to cook them (around 30 minutes in the pot, or until the leaves come off easily), and dip the leaves into melted butter before scraping off the soft part with your teeth. Alternatively, use artichoke hearts in salads, or try this easy spinach artichoke frittata recipe.

6

Broccoli

fresh broccoli stalk
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One stalk of this versatile veggie provides just under 4 grams of fiber; a cup of cooked broccoli comes in at around 10 grams of fiber. So whichever way you prefer it you'll get a healthy fiber fix.

As a bonus, broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamin C (one cup of chopped broccoli contains more than 100% of your daily vitamin C needs). You'll also get some vitamin A, calcium, vitamin B6, and even some iron from broccoli.

Broccoli is naturally very low in calories, and cooked up with a little bit of olive oil and some spices, it makes a delicious side dish. Try this lemony roasted low-carb broccoli with red pepper flakes and oregano, or if you like stir-fries, cook up some Asian broccoli stir-fry (just make sure to use gluten-free soy sauce).

7

Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Raw yams, close-up
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Yams are not the same thing as sweet potatoes. The two vegetables come from completely unrelated plants. The skin of a yam looks like tree bark, and the inside is starchier than a sweet potato, but you can use yams and sweet potatoes interchangeably in most recipes. Never eat raw yams, though; they're toxic uncooked. 

There are around 6 grams of fiber in a cup of cubed yam and 4 grams of fiber in the same amount of sweet potato. Both are high in vitamin B6, but yams contain more vitamin C (nearly half your daily needs in one cup), while sweet potatoes serve up a whopping 377% of your vitamin A needs in one cup.

There are lots of healthy ways to serve yams and sweet potatoes. Try this kale and lentil stuffed sweet potato recipe if you really want to boost your fiber, but you also can make your own sweet potato chips with olive oil for a healthier, higher-in-fiber version of potato chips.

8

Brown Rice or Wild Rice

Brown and black rice in bowl
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White rice has very little fiber, but both brown rice and wild rice have around 3.5 grams per cup. And whatever form it's in, rice is gluten-free. One possible exception is the rice in seasoned rice mixes, so be sure to read labels carefully before buying one of these.

Gluten-free rice bran is another way to get a fiber-fix from rice: Rice brain contains 18 grams of fiber per cup and can be sprinkled on cereal and added into muffins and other baked goods. 

White rice contains a bit of protein (around 4 grams per cup), and small amounts of vitamin B6, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Brown rice is much higher in magnesium (26% of your daily requirements in each cup), and also contains some vitamin B6.

There are plenty of ways to use rice, and most people who follow the gluten-free diet are well-acquainted with its versatility, especially in hot dishes. But if you've never thought to use brown rice in a salad, try this Greek brown rice salad (ideal for those also following a low-FODMAP diet). And for breakfast, consider this vegan banana brown rice porridge (remember to use gluten-free soy milk in the recipe). 

A Word from Verywell

Even though you can't eat whole wheat (the primary source of grain-based fiber for most people), gluten-free grains and grain substitutes can still provide you with some of your daily needs.

One cup of cooked quinoa, for example, contains 5 grams of fiber, while a cup of cooked buckwheat (despite it's name, a gluten-free grain substitute) contains a whopping 17 grams of fiber.

If you eat a very healthy diet and consistently choose foods that contain lots of fiber, you may get enough. However, for most of us that can be difficult, especially if we don't have time to cook every meal from scratch. The truth is, the average American only gets about half of the daily recommended fiber intake.

If you've added up all your daily fiber sources and find you're still not quite meeting your goals, you can consider taking a gluten-free fiber supplement. These supplements can help you fill in the gaps on days when you can't eat enough beans, whole gluten-free grains, and high-fiber vegetables.

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