10 nutrient-dense foods rich in fiber and protein

Protein and fiber are two of the most important nutrients we need, they benefit our health in many ways. And while many look for these separate food macros, there are actually many foods high in both fiber and protein. This increased nutrient density helps you get more bang for your buck from your food choices, saving you some money and prep time, as well as keeping you satisfied long after you eat.

What is fiber and why is it important?

Fiber is a complex carbohydrate found in plant-based foods that the human body can’t fully digest or absorb, explains Rhyan Geiger, RDN, registered dietitian and founder of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian. Unlike other carbohydrates, including sugars and starches, fiber passes through the digestive system relatively intact, providing several health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and improving blood sugar regulation.

Fiber also slows digestion, promoting fullness and satisfaction for a longer period of time after eating.

However, its best-known benefit, of course, is keeping your bowels regular, says Geiger. Fiber helps treat and prevent both constipation and diarrhea, but it also positively influences the gut microbiome. This is because soluble fiber (a type of fiber) acts as a prebiotic or food for the healthy gut bacteria in the biome. A thriving microbiome is linked not only to better digestive health, but to a variety of other benefits, including improved immunity and brain function.

On a daily basis, adult women need about 25 grams of fiber per day, while adult men need about 38 grams, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Fiber only comes from plant-based foods. It’s not found naturally in any animal products, Geiger says. The best sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and seaweed.

What is protein and why is it important?

Meanwhile, protein is another of the three main macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and fats. One of its main functions is to build and grow muscle, but protein is also important for providing energy to our bodies, Geiger explains.

Proteins also make up most of the body’s other tissues, from hair, nails and skin to vital organs, hormones and enzymes. And just like fiber, protein also slows digestion and increases satiety after eating.

Protein needs are more individualized than fiber needs, depending on a variety of factors such as age, activity level, gender, and others. However, by multiplying your body weight in kilograms by 0.8, you will get a good estimate of the amount of grams of protein for each day. To get the most accurate protein recommendation for your body, health needs, and lifestyle, it’s best to meet with a nutrition professional, such as a registered dietitian, for individualized recommendations.

Animal foods are historically excellent sources of protein, but they are not your only choice. In fact, many plants and plant-based foods are packed with protein. So while poultry, eggs, dairy, red meat, and fish are certainly great sources of macronutrients, so are nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and certain vegetables, and the best part is that many plant foods provide protein and fiber!

Foods rich in fiber and protein

dried fruit

Nuts of all kinds are rich in both fiber and protein. For example, pistachios are one of the highest protein nuts, providing more than 10 percent of the daily value and having all nine essential amino acids that our bodies only get from food sources. A one-ounce serving offers six grams of complete protein and three grams of dietary fiber per serving, says Geiger. But again, all nuts contain large amounts of these nutrients, including cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts (technically a legume), macadamia nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts

Lentils

Greg DuPree

Whether added to a nutritious soup, a delicious dal or a hearty salad, lentils are a delicious legume that are excellent sources of protein and fibre. In fact, one cup of boiled lentils contains an impressive 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber.

Whole wheat bread

Caitlin Bensel

Wheat and wheat products often get a bad rap, but whole wheat, like whole wheat bread, can provide a remarkable amount of protein and fiber, especially if it’s made with other grains, nuts, or seeds. Daves Killer Bread Organic 21 Whole Grain and Seed Bread, for example, contains five grams each of fiber and protein per slice.

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Caitlin Bensel

Like nuts, seeds are packed with nutrients, including fiber and protein. Hemp, flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds are the most popular varieties, and all offer these nutritional benefits. For example, in three tablespoons, hemp seeds contain 9.5 grams of protein and one gram of fiber; pumpkin seeds contain nine grams of protein and two grams of fiber; and chia seeds contain five grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber.

Beans

Victor Protasio

A cheap, convenient and versatile protein option, beans also offer a high-fiber punch. In a cooked cup, chickpeas and kidney beans have 15 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber, black beans and pinto beans have 15 grams each, soybeans have 31 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber, and navy beans they offer 15 grams. of protein and 19 grams of fiber.

Brown rice

Christopher Testani

Brown rice is another whole grain that provides a good dose of fiber and protein. A cooked cup contains four grams of fiber and five grams of protein. This popular whole grain makes a perfect soup, stew, burrito bowl, cabbage roll, and stir-fry.

peas

Jennifer Causey

Like other legumes, lentils and beans are also excellent sources of fiber and protein. One cup of raw peas contains seven grams of fiber and eight grams of protein. This spring vegetable pairs well with salads, pastas, soups, savory pies and salsa.

Dark leafy greens

Caitlin Bensel

Although not often considered a significant source of protein, you’d be surprised how much of this macro can be found in green leafy vegetables. In two cups of raw kale, raw spinach, or raw Swiss chard, you’ll find nearly two grams of fiber and protein. These numbers add up quickly considering how much these greens shrink during cooking.

Quinoa

Victor Protasio


Although technically a seed, quinoa is often grouped with whole grains because it is prepared and served like other grains. Quinoa consumption has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to its complete protein profile and nutrient density that includes fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and B vitamins. A cooked cup provides a remarkable eight grams of protein and five grams of fiber

Broccoli

Andrew Purcell

You may be surprised to learn that many cruciferous vegetables offer plenty of protein and fiber. Broccoli is one of the most popular (and most nutritious) cruciferous vegetables, with four grams each of protein and fiber in one and a half cups raw. This green vegetable is delicious raw in salads and salad, as well as cooked in soups, pastas and stir-fries simply with olive oil, salt and pepper.

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