Yes, you can have your cake and get your fiber, too. Desserts and health don't have to be mutually exclusive — so while we want our post-dinner treat to deliver on all things sweet and decadent, that doesn't mean we can't sneak in some healthy ingredients and give it a better-for-you twist.
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Here's why these high-fiber desserts deserve a place in your meal plan: 90 percent of us aren't getting enough fiber on a daily basis, according to a January 2017 analysis published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine — and we're actually falling quite short of the mark.
We're only eating about 16 grams of fiber per day on average, according to the USDA. Skimping on fiber means we're missing out on its many potential health benefits including lower LDL cholesterol levels, healthy blood sugar levels, weight management and digestive regularity.
To help you get more fiber and enjoy it, we've rounded up eight of our favorite dessert recipes that deliver on fiber, so much so that they beat out apples. For reference, a medium apple provides 4.4 grams of fiber. These delicious desserts — milkshakes, sundaes, puddings and more — outperform on the satiating macro, every single time.
Are You Missing Out on Fiber?
1. Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dessert Hummus Ball
Fiber: 6 grams
Rolled oats and chickpeas are the big fiber contributors to these dessert hummus balls. A serving provides 6 grams of fiber. What's more, oats are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol and glucose levels, along with increasing feelings of fullness. Meanwhile, insoluble fiber promotes regularity. Because of this unique blend, oats help to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve blood glucose control, as well as aid weight loss and digestive health, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Get the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dessert Hummus Ball recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Better-for-You Banana Split
Fiber: 8 grams
An ice-cream sundae is definitely not high in fiber but this better-for-you version serves up 8 grams of fiber per dish, thanks in part to the pistachios and raspberries in the recipe.
You can top this banana split with any type of nut but pistachios are unique from others in that they're the only nut to provide lutein and zeaxanthin. These two antioxidants help filter out blue light, which, in turn, can improve sleep quality and reduce the frequency of headaches, eye strain and eye fatigue, according to a June 2017 study published in Foods.
Get the Better-for-You Banana Split recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Mint Cacao-Nib Shake
Fiber: 7 grams
This healthier take on a mint chocolate chip shake blends avocados, dates and cacao nibs — the fiber stars that provide 7 grams per serving. Dates also add natural sweetness — no added sugar required.
Dates may also be good for our guts, according to preliminary research published in October 2014 in Journal of Nutritional Science. Researchers looked at the effect dates have on our GI tract in vitro and observed that eating dates led to an increase in bifidobacteria (good gut bacteria). Bumping up good bacteria in the gut, especially this specific type, is linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Get the Mint Cacao Nib Shake recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Chia Pudding
Fiber: 8 grams
Each pudding cup is less than 200 calories but provides 8 grams of fiber. That's a heavy lift from this dessert considering the recommended daily fiber intake is 25 to 38 grams for women and men, respectively.
This creamy treat also boasts a nice protein punch thanks to soft tofu, which also provides some bone-protecting calcium. Another bonus: the chia seeds in this pudding provide plant-based omega-3s, which are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits.
Get the Chia Pudding recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Banana Berry Protein Ice Cream
Fiber: 5 grams
This is similar to your typical nice cream but with added protein powder for staying power. The fruits — oranges, bananas and raspberries — are what give this ice cream its 5 grams of fiber.
The fresh orange lends this sweet some zing. While oranges are commonly thought of as an immune-boosting food thanks to their high vitamin C offerings, this citrus fruit also helps to boost iron intake.
Pairing vitamin C-rich foods like oranges with foods high in iron (think: a spinach salad or a lentil bowl), helps your body absorb more of the iron found naturally in these foods, as explained in a July 2012 paper published in Advances in Nutrition.
Get the Banana Berry Protein Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Vegan Chocolate Mousse
Fiber: 5 grams
Dairy-free mousse is made possible in this recipe with aquafaba, which is the leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas. When whipped, it forms a more stiff texture similar to whipped egg whites.
Much of the fiber in this dessert (5 grams per serving) comes from raspberries — one of the highest-fiber fruits you can find — and the dark chocolate. A 2-ounce serving of dark chocolate (70 percent or greater) has 6 grams of fiber alone, according to the USDA.
And cacao nibs are also high in fiber — about 90 percent of the carbohydrates found in nibs comes from fiber.
Get the Vegan Chocolate Mousse recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Avocado Honey Cups
Fiber: 5 grams
We often think of avocadoes as a healthy source of fats (and they are), but did you know they're also high in fiber? Half of an avocado, which is the amount you'll find in a single serving of this dessert, has 6 grams of fiber, according to the USDA.
This simple dessert recipe also adds in sunflower seeds, which not only lends this a salty crunch, but also a healthy dose of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese.
Get the Avocado Honey Cups recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Peach Chia Yogurt
Fiber: 8 grams
This treat is just like peaches 'n' cream but with peaches, yogurt, apple butter and chia seeds — and an impressive 8 grams of fiber. Chia seeds are a great add-in for puddings and parfaits because of their gel-like qualities.
But they're also super nutritious: This recipe calls for one tablespoon of chia seeds per serving, which provides calcium (10 percent Daily Value), magnesium (10 percent DV), manganese (14 percent DV) and selenium (12 percent DV).
Get the Peach Chia Yogurt recipe and nutrition info here.
- Harvard Health: "Oats"
- FoodData Central: "Nuts, Pistachios Nuts, Raw"
- Foods: "Macular Carotenoid Supplementation Improves Visual Performance, Sleep Quality, and Adverse Physical Symptoms in Those with High Screen Time Exposure"
- Journal of Nutritional Science: "The Impact of Date Palm Fruits and Their Component Polyphenols, on Gut Microbial Ecology, Bacterial Metabolites and Colon Cancer Cell Proliferation"
- American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: "Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap"
- United States Department of Agriculture: "Fiber Intake of the U.S. Population"
- Advances in Nutrition: "Iron"
- FoodData Central: "Chocolate, Dark, 70-85% Cacao Solids"
- FoodData Central: "Cacao Nibs"
- FoodData Central: "Avocado, Raw"
- FoodData Central: "Seeds, Chia Seeds, Dried"