Fibre

Fibre has always been synonymous with ‘being regular’ but it is also protective against bowel disorders and heart disease. Foods rich in fibre also contain powerful protective agents, such as antioxidants and phytochemicals. High fibre diets can also help in weight control and the management of diseases such as diabetes.

What does fibre do?

Fibre is only found in plant products, but in two forms – soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fibre acts like a sponge, absorbing fluid and making the bowel contents softer and able to move more easily. It also helps lower blood cholesterol and improve blood glucose control. Insoluble fibre acts as a ‘bulking agent’ which, with soluble fibre, helps to keep us regular. This effect is useful in treatment of conditions such as constipation, diverticular disease and hemorrhoids.

Which foods contain fibre?

Foods rich in soluble and insoluble fibre are listed below.

Soluble

Insoluble

Oats

Breads – mixed grain, wholemeal

Legumes – dried peas, beans, lentils

Wholegrain cereals

Vegetables – especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, potato, kumara

Wholewheat pasta

Fruit – especially apples, pears, citrus, stone and berry fruit

Rice, especially brown rice

 

Corn, cornmeal/polenta

 

Fruit and vegetables

How much fibre do we need?

Most New Zealander’s don’t eat enough fibre. Many of us eat less than half of the recommended amount of 25g for women and 30g for men each day. Tips for increasing your fibre intake are listed below. Adding high-fibre foods to your diet should be done gradually, to minimise possible side effects such as wind and bloating. High-fibre diets are not recommended for young (preschool) children. High fibre foods are too filling, preventing young children eating enough to meet their vitamin and mineral needs.  

Fibre content of a range of foods 

 

Fibre (g)

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

8.6

½ cup baked beans

8.2

½ cup stewed apricots

7.0

½ cup muesli

6.5

1 bran muffin

6.0

2 Weetbix

4.8

1 cup brown rice

3.7

1 slice wholemeal bread

3.2

1 kumara

2.8

Dried apricots (10 halves)

2.7

1 slice wholegrain bread

2.6

2 slices white high-fibre

2.6

1 cup porridge

2.1

1 apple or banana

2.0

2 slices white bread

1.6

Tips

  • Aim for at least 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Leave the skin on, as it contains much of the fibre. Fruit and vegetable juices contain little or no fibre.  
  • Choose wholegrain varieties of bread, cereals, rice and pasta. When baking, try substituting half of the white flour with wholemeal flour.                                                                
  • High-fibre breakfast options include porridge or muesli. Increase the fibre further by adding oatbran or wheatgerm, nuts, seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin) and fruit (fresh, canned                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • Try adding chickpeas, kidney beans or lentils to soups, casseroles.                                                                                                                                                                      
  • If you are eating more fibre-rich foods, drink more water than usual as fibre absorbs water in the body.