A diet high in fibre improves intestinal health and bowel regularity (prevents constipation), keeps you full longer (so you eat less), lowers cholesterol, and slows the release of sugar into your blood. As a bonus, foods rich in fibre are usually rich in other essential vitamins and minerals.
Fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and seeds are all great sources of fibre. Adults should consume 25-38 grams of fibre per day. Recommendations for children are 19 grams/day for 1-3 year olds and 25 grams/day for 4-8 year olds.
Tip: when introducing fibre into your diet, do it slowly to avoid intestinal discomfort (gas and bloating) and make sure to drink plenty of water.
5 easy ways to increase fibre in your diet:
1. Eat fruits and vegetables. Whole fruits and vegetables (not juice) are a great source of fibre, as well as a wide array of vitamins and minerals. Sliced apples with peanut butter or cheese makes a great snack (One medium-sized apple contains 4 grams of fibre).
2. Replace white pasta with whole grain. Whole-wheat pasta contains 6 grams of fibre compared to 3 grams in white pasta. You can also try mixing half white and half whole grain for a more familiar taste. Note: Whole grain takes a bit longer to cook than white pasta (about 10 minutes).
3. Eat your beans! Legumes are an excellent source of fibre. Just ½ cup of lentils contains 8 grams of fibre. Canned beans or dried lentils can be added to soups and stews and you can top salads with cooked beans or lentils. Hummus also makes a great dip for veggies.
4. Try eating trail mix (nuts, seeds and dried fruit such as raisins) as a healthy sweet snack. Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats and dried fruit provides a source of iron.
5. Try cooking barley instead of white rice. It is tasty, inexpensive and a great source of fibre. One cup of barley contains 6 grams of fibre, whereas white rice only has 1 gram.
To cook barley: first rinse it in a strainer. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of barley. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low. Cook about 35-40 minutes, or until the barley is tender and all of the water has been absorbed. If the barley has been soaked over night, the cooking time is only 15 minutes.
I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks good! Slowcooker barley risotto
(photo credit: wordhealth.net)