Good health starts in the gut, so it's essential to make sure you're eating a variety of high-fibre foods to promote a diverse gut microbiome. Here are the top 20 high-fibre foods that will keep your digestive system moving.
What is fibre?
Fibre is made up of long chains of sugar molecules, and it is, therefore, a type of carbohydrate.
The difference between fibre and other types of carbohydrates is that fibre cannot be broken down and absorbed in the small intestine to be used for energy.
Instead, fibre remains intact and continues to move through into our large bowel and out of our bodies via our stools.
Why do we need it?
With fibre moving through our digestive system and out of our bodies, it may seem that it doesn’t do very much for us except help us go to the bathroom more easily.
The truth is that fibre plays a very active and beneficial role in our health and wellbeing by not only helping to bulk out our stools and prevent constipation, but also by feeding and promoting the number and diversity of good gut bacteria in our large bowel.
When these microorganisms break fibre down, they produce substances that reduce gut inflammation.
These substances help regulate our blood sugar and hunger hormones, and manage fullness after meals and body weight.
They can even improve our mood, reduce our cholesterol and lower our risk of chronic disease.
Fibre is exclusive to plant foods, and there are many different types. It is beneficial to get a range fibres from a variety of plant foods to promote a diverse gut microbiome.
How much fibre do we need?
The UK recommendation for fibre is 30g per day. Data shows that our average current intake in the UK is just 18g, so many of us would benefit from extra fibre in our diet.
In fact, in the few populations of people where fibre intake is extraordinarily high, sometimes exceeding 100g per day, diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes are almost unheard of1.
All whole plant foods contain fibre, but here you will find some of the top sources to include in your diet so you easily achieve and exceed your 30g target.
Top 20 high-fibre foods
1. Haricot beans – 14g per 100g
Haricot beans are used in the UK’s favourites cans of baked beans. You can include these as a quick and easy meal on toast for a busy day, or add the naked ones to a chilli or stew.
An 80g serving of haricot beans will provide a whopping 11g of fibre.
2. Avocados – 7g per 100g
Avocados are fruits that contain beneficial unsaturated fats alongside fibre.
Smash up a third of an avocado and spread onto your toast or top your salad with 50g and you will be adding 3.5g of fibre to your meal.
3. Chia seeds – 34g per 100g
Chia seeds are a great addition to any yoghurt, porridge or cereal, or you can make a chia pudding.
These little seeds absorb the water around them to form a gel. Just 2 tbsp will provide around 10g of fibre.
Chia pudding is a delicious and easy way to add more high-fibre foods to your diet.
4. Flaxseeds – 27g per 100g
As well as being a great source of fibre, flaxseeds may also help reduce blood pressure and wind.
Add 2 tbsp to your porridge or smoothie to get 6g of fibre into your diet.
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5. Dried goji berries – 13g per 100g
Dried goji berries are a delicious little addition to your breakfast or dessert and provide 4g of fibre for every 2 tbsp serving as well as vitamin C and iron.
6. Almonds – 11g per 100g
Almonds are great as a snack and alongside their beneficial fats and micronutrients, a 30g portion, or a small handful, will provide 3g of fibre.
7. Pistachio nuts – 10g per 100g
Pistachio nuts are great as a quick snack and just a handful will provide you with 3g of fibre.
8. Dried figs – 10g per 100g
Dried figs provide calcium and magnesium. Just 3 dried figs as a snack will provide approximately 4g of fibre.
9. Hazelnuts – 9g per 100g
Sprinkle some hazelnuts onto your breakfast or have them as a snack. A 30g portion will provide 3g of fibre.
You can boost your intake of high-fibre foods with a sprinkling of hazelnuts on top of your porridge.
10. Black beans – 9g per 100g
Stir 80g of black beans into your stew or chilli to add an extra 7g of fibre.
11. Lentils – 8g per 100g
Lentil are great to add into any stew or Bolognese and will provide you with an extra 6g of fibre per 80g serving.
12. Chickpeas – 8g per 100g
Mix into a hummus or add into a curry to provide 6g of extra fibre per 80g serving.
13. Wheat biscuits cereal – 11g per 100g
If you’re looking for a quick breakfast, wheat biscuit cereals are a good choice to up your fibre.
Two biscuits served with your plant milk of choice will provide 4g of fibre.
14. Green peas – 6g per 100g
Keep a bag of frozen peas in the freezer as an easy addition to any meal. An average 80g portion will give you 5g of fibre.
15. Pear – 3g per 100g
Chop a pear into your breakfast or your salad, or eat whole as a quick and easy snack. One medium pear will provide 5g of fibre.
16. Collard greens – 4g per 100g
Adding dark leafy greens to your diet each day is a wonderful way to top up on many micronutrients and beneficial plant compounds as well as fibre.
Add 70g to your meal to provide 3g of fibre.
17. Broccoli – 3g per 100g
This popular green vegetable is a great one to steam and add to many meals. Serve up 75g to provide 2g of fibre.
A 75g serving of broccoli provides you with 2g of dietary fibre.
18. Whole wheat pasta – 4g per 100g
Choosing whole wheat pasta over white is a wise decision, not only to increase the micronutrient content, but also to up the fibre.
Serve 75g of uncooked pasta to provide 3g of fibre.
19. Oranges – 2g per 100g
A delicious fruit to snack on and an easy way to get 3g of fibre per medium-sized orange.
20. Sweet potatoes – 3g per 100g
Serve up your sweet potatoes as wedges or cooked into a curry or stew. A 120g portion of sweet potato will give you around 4g of fibre.
So you can see that once you are choosing the right foods throughout the day, you can easily reach your 30g.
Remember, if you are increasing fibre in your diet, you may benefit from doing this slowly with plenty of extra fluid to reduce any short term abdominal discomfort.
The good news is that your gut can adapt to digest more fibre over time, so keep with it and your gut bugs will thank you!
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