High-fibre foods can help with digestive regulation, including normal elimination. As the British Nutrition Foundation points out, most people in the UK do not get the recommended 30 grams per day. The Foundation finds most men get only 20.1 grams, and women only 17.2, on average. Clearly, we all need to consume more soluble fibre. Yet a diet high in high-fibre foods can become tedious unless you know several ways to enjoy those foods, from fruits to fluids to vegetables.
Fruits add flavour, sweetness and aroma to a high-fibre diet. Consider enjoying more of these, shown below with their grams of soluble and insoluble fibre per 100 grams:
- Strawberries - 1 g
- Apples - 2.4 g
- Oranges - 2.4 g
- Bananas - 2.6 g
- Pears - 3.1 g
- Blackberries - 5 g
- Raspberries - 7 g
Combining fruits in fruit salad can be an excellent way to increase fibre intake and variety of flavours.
Thanks to fruits, breakfast need not be a bore while increasing high-fibre foods. The humble bowl of porridge can really wake you up when topped with fresh fruit slices, nuts, Chia seeds (34 grams of fibre per 100 grams!) and other tasty treats.
Avoid reducing the benefits of the oats (9.4 grams of fibre per 100 grams) in the porridge by steering clear of low-fibre additions of canned fruits, sugar, or jams.
All the vegetables listed below are rich in fibre and can form the basis for fabulous dishes. They are shown with their dietary fibre for every 100 grams of food:
- Broccoli - 2.6 g
- Carrots - 2.8 g
- Sweet potatoes - 3 g
- Avocado - 7 g
- Lentils - 8 g
- Chickpeas - 17 g
- Kidney beans - 25 g
Vegetables tend to retain their fibre values during cooking better than fruits, so you can feel free to experiment with delicious vegetable recipes. Consider offering several side dishes at dinner, such as carrot and sweet potato mash, black bean cakes, aubergine with toasted spices (courtesy of the Mayo Clinic), and salads.
You can still enjoy your main meat dish, of course, and even some tasty bread (so long as you stick with whole grains).
What about getting 11 grams of fibre per serving in a slow cooker vegetable lasagne? It combines courgettes, aubergine, whole wheat lasagne noodles, red and yellow peppers, and tomatoes, all great sources of fibre.
Think seasonally, too, to take advantage of summer's abundance. If you grow your own aubergines, courgettes, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes, one serving of tasty roasted summer vegetable casserole can provide 18 grams of fibre and a whole lot of flavour.
If the "rawness" of vegetables becomes too much to swallow, you can still get a lot of great fibre by using vegetables in hearty, filling soups. Be bold with Mexican bean soup with guacamole, delivering 20 grams of fibre per serving.
Think about broccoli and Stilton cheese soup, made from six simple ingredients. Sprinkling crunchy, high-fibre toppings like nuts or seeds on a soup can liven up even a plain tomato soup. An added benefit: nuts and seeds add protein!
Though you need to keep an eye on the sugar intake, many delicious beverages can also be high fibre, such as strawberry-banana smoothies or fruit juices labelled "100 percent juice". Taking just about any summer berry - blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries - and blend them thoroughly. You may wish to sieve them to achieve true smoothie status.
Vegetables can be blended well, too. Carrot juice (in moderation - too much can tint your skin orange) offers 0.8 g fibre per 100 grams. Vibrant colours and bold tastes are just an avocado or spinach leaf away if your blender is nearby.
Water is not high in fibre, but it does form a vital part of any high-fibre diet, as it helps regulate your bowels.
Legumes include beans, peas, and lentils, all good sources of fibre. Courtesy of BBC GoodFood, how about a breakfast recipe for black bean and barley cakes with poached eggs? Coming in at 10 grams of fibre per serving, it is a great way to start a busy day.
Lunch need not be a bare-knuckle bout with flavourless high-fibre foods. Consider chilli, high in kidney beans, black beans, or just about any bean of your choice. Spicy hummus (made from chickpeas) is also high in fibre and flavour. Another tasty legume-based dish is baked sweet potatoes and beans, with 26 delicious grams of fibre per serving.
However, you seek to get your daily amount of fibre, remember to keep flavour front and centre. You will lose enthusiasm for any dietary improvement if you are unhappy with the lack of flavour or variety. High-fibre vegetables and fruits are vital for healthy transit of faecal matter in the digestive tract. This can help prevent issues like constipation, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea, and excessive or malodorous flatulence.