EVERYONE KNOWS fibre is good for us, but we’d wager not everyone knows why. Luckily, we’re here to tell you.
Fibre is found only in foods that come from plants, and there are two kinds – soluble and insoluble. Your body needs a healthy mix of both.
Fibre is indigestible. Soluble fibre travels through your system freely, insoluble fibre needs to be broken down by bacteria.
Good sources of soluble fibre include fruit, vegetables, oat bran, peas and lentils. We get insoluble fibre from wholegrain foods, brown rice and pasta, nuts, seeds, and the skins of fruit and veg.
A high-fibre diet is very good for you, but some foods, like bran, are so fibrous you need to eat them with plenty of liquid or they will cause discomfort.
A high-fibre diet has been shown to lower harmful cholesterol levels, and help prevent heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. And it can help you lose weight – fibrous foods are filling, so smaller portions are eaten.
The recommended daily intake of fibre is 18g for an adult, though most people don’t eat this much. You can raise your intake simply by making small changes to your diet. For example, there is almost twice as much fibre in brown bread as there is in white, and if you leave the skin on potatoes it almost doubles their fibre value.
Fibre can be found in some surprising places if you know where to look…
Popcorn: Snacks aren’t generally the healthiest of foods, but popcorn is an exception – minus the sugar and salt of course! It is high in fibre and contains antioxidants, which help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and memory loss.
Hot chocolate: Every kid’s favourite hot drink is made from high-fibre cocoa beans. Recent studies show it can increase brainpower, too.
Oranges: One of nature’s wonder foods. Eating an orange is better for you than drinking OJ because the fibre is in the pulp of the fruit and missing from the juice.
Hummus: Ditch the fatty mayonnaise for this Middle Eastern fave. It’s packed full of nutrients and vitamins, as well as fibre.
Barley: This is a high-fibre grain with many uses – and is delicious in a casserole or cooked up in a hot soup.