Fibre is a hugely important but often forgotten nutrient. It plays an important role in digestion and studies have shown that increased fibre intake is associated with a lower risk of bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Fibre is found in a variety of foods including wholegrain breakfast cereals, fruits, vegetables, pulses, wholegrain cereals (e.g. barley, rye), nuts, wholegrain rice, seeds and anything made with wholemeal flour. With people in the UK currently eating less than 19g a day on average, we could all do with getting a little more fibre to meet the recommended 30g a day. These are our five easy tips to show you how:
1. Choose more wholegrains
It’s important to base your meals around starchy carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, couscous, noodles and bread for energy, but swapping to wholegrain varieties will boost your fibre intake too. It’s not necessary to swap completely, but a few portions a week is a good place to start. It’s worth giving them all a try and seeing which ones you like and could make swaps for.
2. Eat your 5 a day
Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is recommended for several reasons, but one of these is that they usually provide fibre. A small pot of dried fruit provides an easy high fibre snack on-the-go. Soft figs, apricots and prunes are all great and high in fibre.
3. Leave the skin on your potatoes
When you’re cooking with potatoes you can get more fibre by making jackets, skin-on wedges or choosing new potato varieties. For delicious sweet potato wedges – simply slice a couple of potatoes, toss in 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary and 2 garlic cloves (skin on), then roast for 30 minutes at 200°C (electric) until crisp and golden.
4. Try to eat more pulses
Pulses are all beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. They’re often overlooked but can make a fantastic healthy addition to your meal, providing plant-based protein and fibre. You can buy cooked microwavable packs which are so convenient and only take a few minutes to heat up, or simply add cold to salads and lunchboxes.
5. Eat a high fibre breakfast
A high fibre breakfast is a perfect start to the day and means you’re more likely to hit your 30g a day. A simple breakfast of baked beans on toast provides over 10g of fibre – 1/3 of the daily recommended intake! Porridge, granola and bran cereals are also brilliant choices
– try topping with a sliced banana for an extra boost of fibre.