Fibre is an important part of healthy eating. It can help protect against heart disease, weight gain, certain cancers and improve digestive health. Fibre is only found in foods that come from plants such as; fruit and vegetables, cereals and pulses.
There are two main types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. It's important to include a mixture of both soluble and insoluble fibre, as they help to protect the body in different ways.
It is recommended that adults should eat 30g of fibre each day. However, in the UK, the average fibre intake for adults is 18g (60% of what it should be).
To increase your fibre intake, you could:
- Choose a higher-fibre breakfast cereal such as plain whole-wheat biscuits (like Weetabix) or plain shredded whole grain (like Shredded wheat), or porridge as oats are also a good source of fibre.
- Go for wholemeal or granary breads, or higher fibre white bread, and choose wholegrains like whole-wheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.
- Go for potatoes with their skins on, such as a baked potato or boiled new potatoes.
- 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.
- 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.
To prevent constipation, it is important to ensure that an increase in fibre intake is accompanied by an increase in fluid.