Dietary fibre is a plant-based, non-digestible carbohydrate in vegetables and whole grains. It is also known as roughage. Usually, the small intestine breaks down the food one eats, but this is not the case with fibre. Instead, the bacteria in the large intestine partially or completely ferment the plant fibres. Therefore, fibre serves as a prebiotic by feeding the “good” bacteria in the gut.
While it is essential to consume sufficient amounts of soluble, fermentable fibre for optimal health, most adults are still not meeting their daily fibre requirements. Considering the numerous health benefits of fibre, consuming less can lead to a severe deficit in the diet. Including the recommended daily intake of fibre in the diet can be much easier with the aid of this high-fibre food guide.
Types of Fibre
It is important to remember that there are many different types of fibre, and not all fibres are equal. Some offer significant nutritional advantages, while others have no noteworthy health benefits.
Based on how soluble it is in water, fibre falls into two primary categories:
Soluble or fermentable fibre dissolves in water and has various metabolic health benefits. When soluble fibre dissolves in gastrointestinal fluids, it becomes a gel-like material. It helps to maintain healthy intestinal flora. Soluble fibre is present in fruit, barley, beans, lentils, and oats.
Insoluble fibre is non-fermentable and is unable to dissolve in water. Because insoluble fibre does not dissolve in gastrointestinal fluids, it stays the same and functions as a bulking agent. It can also have a mild laxative effect. Insoluble fibre is present in whole wheat or bran products, potatoes, cauliflowers, and nuts.
A balanced diet contains a healthy mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Different plant foods contain varying amounts of soluble and insoluble fibre. If a food product gets marketed as high in fibre, the nutrition label must specify the amount of soluble and insoluble fibre in grams (g) per serving.
There are two primary types of fibre: soluble and insoluble fibre, each with unique properties and benefits. Soluble fibre, found in foods like fruit, barley, and oats, dissolves in water and supports a healthy gut environment. On the other hand, insoluble fibre, present in whole wheat products, potatoes, and nuts, doesn’t dissolve in water and adds bulk to your diet, aiding digestion. A balanced diet includes both types of fibre, and it’s essential to be aware of the soluble and insoluble fibre content in the foods you consume. So, remember, a mix of both is the key to a fibre-rich diet that promotes overall health.
Health Benefits of Fibre
Most people link fibre primarily with how it aids digestion or reduces constipation. However, the benefits of fibre go far beyond that.
Better Weight Management
Consuming only fibre will not directly lead to weight loss, but its high satiating power can help reduce overeating tendencies. As a result, it will prevent hunger pangs between meals, and one can avoid adding extra calories to the diet.
Balance Cholesterol Levels
In the intestines, soluble fibre dissolves into a gel-like material that slows digestion. It traps cholesterol and stops the body from reabsorbing it into the blood. The body subsequently excretes the trapped cholesterol as stool.
Prevents Blood Sugar Spikes
Consuming dietary fibre, particularly cereal fibre, can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it also helps reduce the concentration of fasting blood glucose. The human body can not absorb and digest fibre. As a result, unlike other carbohydrates, fibre does not raise blood sugar levels.
Promotes Regular Bowel Movements
Dietary fibre bulks up and softens the stool. Constipation is less likely when the stool is bulkier and easy to pass. Because fibre absorbs water and gives stool volume, it can also help avoid loose, watery stools.
Fibre offers several benefits that extend beyond digestion and constipation relief. It plays a significant role in weight management by curbing overeating and preventing unnecessary calorie intake. Soluble fibre helps balance cholesterol levels by trapping cholesterol in the intestines, preventing reabsorption into the bloodstream. It also aids in preventing blood sugar spikes, making it beneficial for those at risk of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, fibre promotes regular bowel movements by softening and bulking up stool, reducing the likelihood of both constipation and loose stools. Incorporating fibre-rich foods into your diet can contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
Recommended Fibre Intake
Although there is no standard dietary guideline for insoluble or soluble fibre intake, many experts advocate consuming 25 to 30 grams of fibre per day from food, not from supplements. And around one-fourth, or 6 to 8 grams per day, must be soluble fibre. Men should aim for 30 to 38 grams of fibre per day, while women should try to consume at least 21 to 25 grams daily.
Adequate fibre consumption during pregnancy is essential for both mother’s and baby’s health. Aim for a minimum daily intake of 28 grams of dietary fibre during pregnancy. Higher intakes of more than 30 grams per day will likely provide additional benefits.
It is essential to gradually increase fibre intake because consuming large amounts at once can cause side effects. Such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Temporary weight gain
- Loose stools or diarrhoea
- People with Crohn’s disease may experience intestinal blockage
- Low blood sugar levels
The recommended minimum daily fibre intake depends on the gender and age. Men should aim for 30-38 grams of fibre daily, whereas women should consume 21–25 grams. However, avoid sudden changes to fibre intake to prevent constipation or indigestion.
Top 10 High Fibre Foods
High-fibre foods provide at least 20% of the recommended daily value (DV) of dietary fibre per serving. Foods with five per cent or less count as poor sources of dietary fibre.
Here are the top 10 fibre-rich foods:
3 g of soluble fibre from oats (3 servings of 28 g each) can reduce total and LDL cholesterol by about 0.13 mmol/L. 100 g of raw oats provide 10.1 g fibre, or 1 cup (81 g) of raw oats provide 8.18 g. It works well baked into cookies, muffins, granola, or as cooked cereal.
Beyond its fibre content, oats are known for their cholesterol-lowering benefits due to beta-glucans. They’re also a source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, promoting heart health and overall well-being. Oats’ steady release of energy makes them an ideal choice for sustained vitality and blood sugar regulation.
For people following a plant-based diet, quinoa is a pseudo-cereal that offers both fibre and protein. Uncooked quinoa has 7 g of dietary fibre per 100 g. However, 100 g of cooked quinoa has about 2.8 g of fibre.
While quinoa is rich in fibre, it’s also a valuable source of complete plant-based protein, containing all essential amino acids. Perfect for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet, it provides muscle support, promotes fullness, and offers various vitamins and minerals.
3. Black Beans
100 g of cooked black beans contains 8.7 g of fibre. Besides being fibre-rich, black beans are fat-free and packed with antioxidants, iron, and vitamins like folate. They contribute to better heart health, energy levels, and immune function.
Hulled barley is high in fibre, especially beta-glucan, providing 17.3 g per 100 g. It is a versatile grain that goes well with salads, side dishes, soups and stews. However, those suffering from severe IBS or a sensitive digestive tract should avoid barley.
Hulled barley, particularly rich in beta-glucan fibre, also provides essential minerals like selenium and manganese, supporting immune function and bone health.
5. Nuts and Seeds
One of the best sources of dietary fibre is undoubtedly nuts and seeds. These are a few of the best foods high in fibre that fall under the category of nuts and seeds.
- Almonds: 12.5 g fibre per 100 g
- Pecans: 9.6 g per 100 g
- Peanuts, raw: 8 g per 100 g
- Dried chia seeds: 34.3 g per 100 g
- Flaxseeds: 27.3 g per 100 g
Almonds, pecans, peanuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are exceptional sources of not only fibre but also healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids. They are known for their heart-protective effects, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
6. Navy Beans
Navy bean, also known as Pea bean or White pea bean, is a dry bean variety. 100 g of cooked, unsalted Navy beans contains 10.5 g of fibre. These beans are easier to digest than chickpeas and kidney beans. They’re also a good source of plant-based protein, aiding muscle repair and growth.
7. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are primarily carbs and fibre. However, they are also a rich source of protein. 100 g of boiled kidney beans offers 6.4 g of fibre. However, the insoluble fibres in kidney beans known as alpha-galactosidase may induce diarrhoea and flatulence in some people.
Kidney beans provide essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and potassium, benefiting blood health, muscle function, and blood pressure regulation.
Broccoli is low in calories and provides 2.6 g of fibre per 100 g. This cruciferous vegetable is high in vitamin K and antioxidants. Broccoli supports bone health, immune function, and skin health. When buying broccoli, avoid weak, yellowing, or wilting pieces.
Apples, one of the most popular fruits worldwide, are high in the soluble fibre pectin. One medium-sized apple with skin provides 4.37 g of fibre. Pectin also has various health benefits, including improved digestion and heart health. Apples are also rich in vitamin C, promoting skin health and immunity.
One large banana contains 3.54 g of fibre. Additionally, a large amount of resistant starch—an indigestible carbohydrate that acts like fibre—is present in green or unripe bananas. Bananas are also a great way to add fibre to a meal, smoothie, or snack.
Bananas also provide essential nutrients like potassium, which is essential for maintaining proper muscle and nerve function, as well as regulating blood pressure.
Maintaining a high-fibre diet is crucial for overall health, and these top 10 fibre-rich foods offer both flavour and wellness benefits. Oats, known for cholesterol reduction, kickstart the list. Quinoa, black beans, and barley blend fibre, protein, and essential nutrients to the table, supporting heart health, energy, and immunity. Nuts and seeds like almonds, pecans, peanuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds not only pack fibre but also heart-healthy fats. Navy beans and kidney beans provide protein alongside their fibre content, promoting muscle growth and blood health. Broccoli, apples, and bananas add vitamins and antioxidants to their fibre, boosting bone health, digestion, and immunity. Incorporating these fibre-rich foods into your diet can be a tasty way to support your well-being.
Try this high fibre smoothie recipe that can help you in achieving your daily fibre intake. In a blender, take a glass of milk of your choice, add a cup of spinach, half a cup of cooked oats along with half a cup of mixed berries. Throw in half an apple and around 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds. Blend it together and enjoy. This will be a great way to fulfil your fibre intake of the day and you can always alternate these with other vegetables like beetroot, carrots etc.
While fibre supplements are available, choosing fibre-rich whole foods is healthier. Fortunately, it is easy to incorporate most naturally high-fibre foods into a healthy, well-balanced diet. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, pulses, nuts, and seeds are just a few examples. However, check the nutritional information when buying ready-made, pre-packaged products that claim to be high in fibre.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are high-fibre foods?
A: High-fibre foods contain at least 20% of the recommended daily value (DV) of dietary fibre per serving. Wholegrain products, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are some high-fibre foods.
Q: Why is fibre important for a healthy diet?
A: Higher intakes of dietary fibre, especially from whole foods like vegetables, cereal fibre, and whole grains, lead to a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Insoluble fibre is also good for preventing constipation.
Q: How much fibre should I consume daily?
A: The current recommendation is that adults eat around 25-30g of fibre daily. However, there can be variations based on age, gender, and medical conditions.
Q: What are soluble and insoluble fibres, and what is their significance?
A: Soluble fibres are water-soluble fibres. It helps feed healthy gut bacteria, reduces cardiovascular disease risk, stabilises blood sugar (glucose) levels, and supports weight management. On the other hand, insoluble fibre is not water-soluble. They can help prevent constipation.
Q: Which foods are rich in dietary fibre?
A: Fibre is present in plant-based foods, notably nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, beans, and lentils. There is no fibre in animal products like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products like cheese and yoghurt.
Q: Can a high-fibre diet help with weight management?
A: A high-fibre diet can help maintain a healthy weight. Fibre has high satiating power, prompting a person to eat less overall. It can help reduce overeating tendencies and cut down calorie intake.
Q: How does fibre support digestive health?
A: Fibre may help prevent and treat constipation and make stools pass more easily. In the digestive tract, plant-based fibre ferments to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These acids facilitate better digestion.
Q: Are there specific fibre-rich foods that can help lower cholesterol levels?
A: A soluble fibre called beta-glucan in oats and barley forms a gel-like substance in the gut. This gel-like Beta-glucan can bind to cholesterol and prevent the body from absorbing it. As a result, it lowers blood cholesterol levels.
Q: Can a high-fibre diet help regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes?
A: Fibre-rich foods do not raise blood sugar levels as much as low-fibre diets. Additionally, soluble fibre helps with blood sugar regulation. Including soluble fibre in the rest of the meal slows down the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream and helps to reduce blood sugar spikes.
Q: What are the benefits of fibre for heart health?
A: The binding properties of viscous fibre or beta-glucan in soluble fibre can aid in trapping excess bile and cholesterol in the GI tract. It can promote maintaining ideal cholesterol levels, which is good for heart health.
Q: How can fibre help prevent constipation?
A: Stool passes through the colon more easily because soluble fibre has a gel-like consistency while insoluble fibre bulks up. It lowers the chance of constipation.
Q: Are there any potential side effects of consuming too much fibre?
A: Bloating, gas, and abdominal pain are the most common symptoms of consuming too much fibre. Seek medical help immediately if you have nausea, vomiting, a fever, or difficulty passing gas or stools.
Q: Do high-fibre foods have any impact on reducing the risk of certain cancers?
A: The gut needs fibre to function properly. It nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, contributing to a diverse and well-functioning microbiome. It can help reduce intestinal inflammation and minimise the chance of developing diverticulitis and colon cancer.
Q: What are some creative ways to incorporate more fibre into one’s diet?
A: Switch to wholegrain. For example, substituting white pasta for wholewheat pasta and choosing high-fibre bread instead of refined bread. Consume more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and beans. When buying ready-made products, try to select those with lots of fibre.
Q: Are there any specific dietary recommendations for individuals looking to increase their fibre intake?
A: A sudden rise in the amount of fibre in the diet could lead to bloating and gas. To avoid this, gradually increase the fibre intake. Drink plenty of water and make one change at a time.
Fibre Intake Predicts Weight Loss and Dietary Adherence in Adults Consuming Calorie-Restricted Diets: The POUNDS Lost (Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies) Study
Dietary Fibre Intake and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses.
Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels
High-Fiber Diet during Pregnancy Characterised by More Fruit and Vegetable Consumption.
Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fibre: a meta-analysis
The U S Department of Agriculture on Oats
The U S Department of Agriculture on Quinoa
The U S Department of Agriculture on Black Beans
The U S Department of Agriculture on Barley
The U S Department of Agriculture on Almonds
The U S Department of Agriculture on Pecans
The U S Department of Agriculture on Peanuts
The U S Department of Agriculture on Chia Seeds
The U S Department of Agriculture on Flaxseeds
The U S Department of Agriculture on Navy Beans
The U S Department of Agriculture on Kidney Beans
The U S Department of Agriculture on Broccoli
The U S Department of Agriculture on Apples
The U S Department of Agriculture on Banana
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