Most Aussies aren’t getting enough fibre, which is loaded with key health benefits. Dietitian Brooke Longfield shows why you should eat more and where to get it.
Fibre is the part of plant foods that remains undigested as it passes through your body. You might wonder, then, why we need it, since it’s not digested. Dietary fibre keeps our digestive system healthy and is vital for our overall wellbeing. It is found in fruit and vegetables, grains, nuts, beans and legumes. There are three different types of fibre, each with different functions and health benefits. To maximise these benefits, we should include all three types of fibre in our diet:
1. Insoluble fibre
Adds bulk to your stools, helping to prevent constipation. Wheat bran, fruit, vegies and nuts are high in insoluble fibre.
2. Soluble fibre
Lowers your LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels and stabilises blood sugar levels. Soluble fibre is found in oats, psyllium and dried beans. This type of fibre slows down digestion, which helps to make you feel full.
3. Resistant starch
Assists in the production of good bacteria in the large intestine and improves bowel health. Potatoes, lentils, whole grains and unripe bananas contain resistant starch.
Easy ways to eat more fibre
We should aim to eat 25–30g of fibre every day to stay healthy.
Sprinkle some chopped nuts, chia seeds, LSA mix or pepitas over your bowl of porridge, yoghurt or salads. Just a tablespoon will add up to 4g of fibre to your daily intake.
Toss a can of legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas or 4-bean mix into soups, stews and curries to replace half the meat. This adds more than 10g of fibre. Legumes are packed with nutrients, and are inexpensive compared to beef, fish and chicken. Just remember to always rinse.
Swap white bread, rice and pasta for wholemeal or wholegrain varieties, and you’ll at least double your fibre intake. Microwavable pouches of brown rice are a simple and quick option.
Where to find fibre
1/4 cup mixed nuts = 3g fibre
1/2 cup bran = 13g fibre
1/2 cup cooked spinach = 2g fibre
1 cup cooked brown rice = 3g fibre
1/2 cup canned 4-bean mix = 6g fibre
1 cup cooked wholemeal spaghetti = 8g fibre
1/2 cup cooked sweet potato = 2g fibre
3/4 cup raspberries = 6.5g fibre
1 tablespoon chia seeds = 4g fibre
Read the nutrition information panel on the back of packets to compare products for their fibre – always compare the ‘per 100g’ column, and pick the brand with the highest amount.
Did you know? Six out of 10 of us don’t get enough daily fibre.