Fibre helps you feel full, lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar levels and keeps your trips to the washroom regular. And in recent research, scientists say they’ve uncovered another benefit: fibre may help us live longer and stave off disease well into old age.
Most Canadians only get half of the fibre they need every day though, according to Kate Comeau, spokeswoman for the Dietitians of Canada.
“I recommend to my clients to eat foods on a regular basis to help manage their weight because they fill you up so that you’re not hungry and make bad food choices. Fullness is your friend when it comes to weight management and lots of fibre is the answer to being full at a meal,” Susan Watson, an Ottawa-based registered dietitian, said.
“I often say fibre is like the magical component in our foods … ideally, the average Canadian should be consuming 28 to 35 grams of fibre daily,” Krista Leck Merner, a Halifax-based registered dietitian told Global News.
When you increase your fibre intake, do so slowly and drink more fluids. This will help the fibre to work through your body better, and prevent gas and bloating. So far, an upper limit for fibre has not been established, so a high intake shouldn’t be a problem for healthy Canadians, Comeau said.
Here’s a list at the experts’ favourite high-fibre picks to keep you full and satisfied at meal time.
Beans and lentils: Black beans, kidney beans, red lentils – these little powerhouses of nutrition are jam packed with fibre and protein, not to mention they’re easy on our healthy eating budget, Leck Merner said. There are 15 grams of fibre per cup and 18 grams of protein in pulses and lentils.
Hemp hearts, flax and chia seeds: Not only will these choices give you a healthy dose of omega-3 fats, you will also bump up your intake by upwards of five grams of fibre per tablespoon, Leck Merner said. Breakfast oats, smoothies, homemade muffins and other goodies are great vehicles for these fibre-rich foods.
Psyllium husks: Like hemp, flax and chia, psyllium husks can be mixed into smoothies or tucked into your baking. Start with a teaspoon a day and work your way up to two tablespoons, Watson said. When psyllium is mixed with water, it swells so much, it helps make you feel full.
Berries: Those tiny little seeds in your raspberries help increase the fibre content, Leck Merner said. Blackberries are also a great choice, packing about eight grams of fibre per cup. It helps that these little gems taste like candy and can be added to fruit salads, yogurt bowls or eaten on their own.
Pears: They’re in season this autumn and if you eat the skin, you’re consuming, on average, about six grams of fibre per pear, the experts say.
Peas: These vegetables are little green powerhouses packed with one of the highest fibre punches amongst all vegetables. There’s about nine grams of fibre per cup.
High-fibre cereals and whole grain pastas and rice: These foods are great options, especially next to their white, low-in-nutrition counterparts. Whole grains, such as brown rice, wild rice and oatmeal, are good bets. Pasta could have as much as seven grams of fibre per cooked cup while there are seven grams of fibre in a cup of bran flakes.
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