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Which Fruits & Vegetables Relieve Constipation?

author image Sandi Busch
Sandi Busch received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then pursued training in nursing and nutrition. She taught families to plan and prepare special diets, worked as a therapeutic support specialist, and now writes about her favorite topics – nutrition, food, families and parenting – for hospitals and trade magazines.
Which Fruits & Vegetables Relieve Constipation?
Fiber from fruits and vegetables helps prevent constipation. Photo Credit Eduard Titov/iStock/Getty Images

Lack of dietary fiber is the most common cause of constipation, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Eating an adequate amount of fiber every day can help you prevent and relieve constipation because insoluble fiber keeps waste moving through your large intestine. A healthy way to boost your fiber is to consume 3 to 6 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.

Fiber Recommendations

Which Fruits & Vegetables Relieve Constipation?
Make sure you gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet to avoid unpleasant side effects. Photo Credit merznatalia/iStock/Getty Images

Most people fall significantly short of the recommended daily intake for fiber, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Women should consume 25 grams of fiber daily, while men need 38 grams. When adding fiber to your diet, increase the amount you eat gradually to avoid side effects such as gas and bloating. Also be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water daily because it makes the fiber more effective. As insoluble fiber travels through your intestines, it traps water, which increases stool bulk, adds moisture and makes it easier to have a bowel movement.

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Prunes Have More Than Fiber

Which Fruits & Vegetables Relieve Constipation?
Prunes can help relieve mild to moderate constipation better than psyllium. Photo Credit Uros Petrovic/iStock/Getty Images

Prunes, or dried plums, relieve mild to moderate constipation better than psyllium, which is a common ingredient in laxatives, according to a study published in April 2011 in “Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.” Prunes contain fiber, but they also have another ingredient that prevents constipation. They’re good sources of the natural sugar sorbitol, which produces a laxative effect by pulling water into your intestine. Just keep in mind that too much sorbitol can cause excess gas. You’ll get 1 gram of fiber and 4 grams of sugar from each prune you eat, so your total sugar adds up quickly if you eat too many.

Fiber From Fruits

Which Fruits & Vegetables Relieve Constipation?
Peeling fruit will strip away much of the fiber. Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

It's important to eat fruit with the skin because it contains a fair amount of fiber. For example, about half of the apple's fiber is lost when you peel away the skin. Pears are one of the top fruit sources of fiber, with 6 grams in one large pear. You'll get 3 grams of fiber from 1 cup of raspberries, as well as one small apple and one medium-sized peach with their skin still intact. The flesh of one orange also supplies 3 grams of fiber. Apples, pears and raspberries have an advantage. A larger percentage of their total fiber -- about 62 to 73 percent -- consists of insoluble fiber.

Green Peas Top the List

Which Fruits & Vegetables Relieve Constipation?
Peas are high in insoluble fiber. Photo Credit Joy Prescott/iStock/Getty Images

Green peas are considered vegetables, yet they belong to the legume family. Like other legumes, such as beans, green peas provide an excellent source of fiber. One cup contains 8.6 grams of fiber. Peas are also high in insoluble fiber, which accounts for about 70 percent of their total fiber. Other types of peas, such as edible-podded snap peas, contain only half the total fiber you’ll get from green peas.

Other Vegetable Options

Which Fruits & Vegetables Relieve Constipation?
Sweet potatoes have a lot of fiber. Photo Credit Kraivuttinun/iStock/Getty Images

Sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts both supply 8 grams of total fiber in a 1-cup serving. The same serving of broccoli contains 5 grams, while carrots have only slightly less, with 4 grams of fiber. The group of vegetables with the next highest amount of fiber contains 2 to 4 grams in a 1-cup serving, according to Harvard University. This group includes sweet green peppers, celery and spinach. About half of the total fiber in all of these vegetables is insoluble fiber.

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