Most of us need to eat more fibre and have fewer added sugars in our diet. Eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.
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?
- Legumes – dried peas, beans, lentils
- Vegetables – especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, potato, kumara
- Fruit – especially apples, pears, citrus, stone and berry fruit
- Breads – mixed grain, wholemeal
- Wholegrain cereals
- Wholewheat pasta
- Rice, especially brown rice
- Corn, cornmeal, polenta
- Fruit & 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. Adding high-fibre foods to your diet should be done gradually, to minimise possible side effects such as wind and bloating.
Tips for eating more fibre
Choose a higher-fibre breakfast cereal such as plain wholewheat biscuits (like Weetabix) or plain shredded whole grain (like Shredded wheat), or porridge as oats are also a good source of fibre. Find out more about healthy breakfast cereals.
Go for wholemeal or granary breads, or higher fibre white bread, and choose wholegrains like wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.
Go for potatoes with their skins on, such as a baked potato or boiled new potatoes. Find out more about starchy foods and carbohydrates.
Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to stews, curries and salads.
Include plenty of vegetables with meals, either as a side dish or added to sauces, stews or curries. Find out more about how to get your 5 A Day.
Have some fresh or dried fruit, or fruit canned in natural juice for dessert. Because dried fruit is sticky, it can increase the risk of tooth decay, so it’s better if it is only eaten as part of a meal, rather than as a between-meal snack. For snacks, try fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes and unsalted nuts or seeds.