The Best Vegetable to Help You Poop, According to Dietitians

The Best Vegetable to Help You Poop, According to Dietitians
Reviewed by Dietitian Emily Lachtrupp, M.S., RD
Straining on the toilet, passing dry stool or feeling like your stool hasn’t fully passed are all signs of constipation, per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. There are various potential causes, from medical conditions to medication changes, but nutrition can also play a role.

A 2022 study in Nutrients found that diets high in sugary products and sodium were associated with higher rates of constipation. On the other hand, diets with more whole grains, fats and starchy vegetables were associated with reduced constipation.

Increasing fiber and fluid are well-known ways to prevent and treat constipation. We spoke with three registered dietitians who all suggest prioritizing these two things in your diet if you struggle with constipation. “Less than 5% of Americans get enough fiber, with most getting less than 15 grams a day when the minimum recommendations are 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams a day for men,” says Nichole Dandrea-Russert, M.S., RDN, a plant-based dietitian.

To help you get in more fiber, fluids and starch so you can poop regularly, we recommend eating more green peas. They’re considered a starchy vegetable, per the Department of Agriculture, because they contain 25 grams of carbohydrate per cooked cup, unlike nonstarchy vegetables that tend to have 5 grams or less of carbohydrates. Plus, they contain micronutrients that may also help relieve constipation.

The Benefits of Green Peas for Constipation Relief
Rich in Insoluble Fiber
A 1-cup serving of cooked peas contains a total of 9 grams of fiber, or 32% of the Daily Value. Of these 9 grams of total fiber, about 70% is insoluble fiber, per Endotext. This type of fiber adds bulk to your stool to help speed up transit time through your digestive tract, so it’s especially helpful for constipation, according to the National Library of Medicine.

The remaining 30% of peas' fiber is soluble fiber, which helps attract water into your gastrointestinal tract during digestion. This type of fiber is more helpful for relieving diarrhea, but it can also help reduce your risk of heart disease, per the NLM. Both kinds of fiber are essential for overall digestive health, says Dandrea-Russert, and most fiber-containing foods have a combination of both.

Try this Creamy Green Pea Pesto Pasta for a savory high-fiber dinner!

High Fluid Content
Getting in enough fluids throughout the day is key to preventing and treating constipation, says Emily Maus, RD, a registered dietitian and founder of Live Well Dietitian. “Hydration is important to keep stool a softer consistency for easier passing,” she explains. Because soluble fiber attracts water, the combination of the two is needed for more comfortable bowel movements.

When you think of hydration, you may think of lugging around a big water bottle, but most fruits and veggies have a high fluid content that can contribute to your total fluid intake.

Kaytee Hadley, M.S., RDN, founder of Holistic Health and Wellness, highlights green peas as a high-fiber and high-fluid veggie. They’re made up of almost 80% water, per the USDA!

Good Source of Magnesium

Many people have heard that fiber and fluid are good for relieving constipation, but did you know that magnesium—a mineral found in green peas—may also help?

“One recent study looked at the diets and bowel habits of 9,519 adults and found that dietary magnesium was inversely associated with constipation. Those with higher dietary magnesium reported less constipation compared to those who consumed less magnesium through their diet,” says Dandrea-Russert, referencing a 2021 study in Food Science & Nutrition. Magnesium may have a laxative effect by pulling water from your body into your stool, improving stool frequency and consistency.

Magnesium supplementation has been shown to relieve constipation for some time now, says Dandrea-Russert, but this is one of the first studies looking at dietary magnesium’s impact on constipation. Its results are promising; however, the study was observational so we can’t be sure that magnesium is what caused reduced constipation rates.

Interestingly, many Americans don’t meet the recommended intakes of magnesium, per the National Institutes of Health. Eating foods like green peas can help you consume more magnesium for overall health and potentially even constipation relief. Each cup of cooked green peas contains an impressive 15% of the DV for magnesium, according to the USDA.

You may be used to having frozen or canned peas as a side dish, and this Quinoa with Peas & Lemon recipe kicks things up a notch.
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