When it comes to losing weight, as well as just maintaining good health, getting enough fibre in your diet is essential. Fibre helps to slow down digestion, keeping you feeling full for longer, as well as reducing fat absorption and regulating your blood sugar levels. Dietary guidelines recommend eating 20-35 grams of fibre each day, but studies show that most of us only get half that amount. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can add more fibre into your regular diet, without even making any huge lifestyle changes. Here’s why you should be filling up on fibre rich foods, and what you should be eating…
Fibre is found in the structural components of plants, and does not get digested and used for energy by the human body- instead, it plays an important role in digestion, helping you to lose weight and maintain good health. Eating plenty of fibre can help to stabilise your blood sugar, which prevents cravings. It also keeps you feeling full, and lowers fat absorption, so adding more fibre-rich foods into your diet plan is a good way to support your weight loss efforts.
There are two types of fibre, and often both are present in the one food. Soluble fibre, which comes mostly from the insides of fruits and vegetables, forms into a gel in your digestive tract, slowing down digestion and helping you to feel full for longer. Insoluble fibre, found in the skins of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, nuts and seeds, passes straight through the intestinal tract, keeping everything in motion.
Other health benefits of fibre
Fibre also gives you other health benefits. For example, it can help to:
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Lower risk of diabetes
- Lower risk of colon cancer
- Strengthen your immune system
So making sure you get enough fibre in your diet is important whether you are trying to lose weight, or just maintaining your ideal weight and good health.
Sources of fibre
There are plenty of ways you can fit fibre in your diet plan. Here are some of the best sources…
Whole grains are a great source of insoluble fibre. Some of the best choices include whole-wheat bread, cereals and pastas, as well as brown rice. Start your day with some bran, oats or shredded wheat to get your body functioning well- all bran has around 1 gram of fibre per 10 grams of bran, and shredded wheat has even more.
Nuts, seeds and legumes
Some of the best high-fibre nuts, seeds and legumes include pine nuts, dried peas, lima beans, lentils, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, chestnuts, pistachios and almonds. A handful of almonds (around 50 grams) has 5.5 grams of fibre, so it makes a great healthy snack. Or you can make a tasty bean burrito for dinner- 25 grams of kidney beans has around 4 grams of fibre.
Fruits and vegetables
All fruits and vegetables contain fibre, but some of the most potent options include vegetables such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, artichokes, and corn, as well as fruits including apples, pears, blackberries, raspberries, bananas, peaches, prunes, figs, oranges and kiwifruit. A medium apple has around 3.6 grams of fibre, while a serve of peas has about the same.
Still having trouble reaching the 30 grams a day goal? Here are some easy ways to sneak more fibre into your diet plan…
- Add flaxseed. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed over your cereal, or stir it into your low-fat yogurt.
- Drink nectar. Instead of fruit juice, have a glass of apricot, peach, pear or papaya nectar- juice mixed with a fibre-rich pulp.
- Blend an orange. Pop a whole peeled orange in the blender to give your morning smoothie some flavour- it has almost 3 grams more fibre than store-bought orange juice.
- Use almond butter. Give your whole-wheat toast some extra fibre by spreading it with almond butter. This will also give you a good dose of vitamin E and healthy fats.
- Switch your bread. Make your sandwiches with whole wheat or rye bread- it has twice the amount of fibre as white bread.
- Snack on popcorn. Air-pop some popcorn when you need a healthy snack- a large serve of popcorn can have up to 8 grams of fibre.
- Add chickpeas. Toss half a cup of chickpeas into your soup, stir-fry or pasta sauce- they’ll add another 6 grams of fibre to your meal.
- Make fruit your dessert. Get your sweet fix with some frozen berries. Half a cup of raspberries has around 4 grams of fibre.