I’m passionate about sharing my knowledge and love for whole foods, whole grains, and fibre-rich ingredients. In this article, we’ll explore the myriad benefits and incredible diversity that these elements bring to our tables and, ultimately, to our overall well-being.

What is Dietary Fibre? 

Dietary fibre is found in wholegrain cereals and fruit and vegetables. Fibre is made up of the indigestible parts or compounds of plants, which pass relatively unchanged through our stomach and intestines. Fibre is mainly a carbohydrate. The main role of fibre is to keep the digestive system healthy,  it may be described in many different ways, including ‘roughage’. 

Simply, fibre is like that calm, dependable, foundational friend that we all need in our lives! Working away in the background, keeping us calm regulated and supported. Sometimes we don’t even know how great a friend they are until they stop doing what they are supposed to.

Fibre is essential for your gut to work normally. It increases good bacteria which supports your immunity against inflammatory disorders and allergies. A high-fibre diet seems to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

Recent research suggests that fibre should be categorised by its physical characteristics; how well it dissolves (solubility), how thick it is (viscosity) and how well it breaks down (fermentability).

Dietary fibre can be categorised into two main groups: Soluble and Insoluble fibre. 

Soluble fibre

Soluble fibre dissolves in water, turning into a gel-like substance in your gut. This helps slow digestion, which can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce the risk of spikes in blood sugar.  This type of fibre may also help control the amount of “bad” cholesterol in your blood. Soluble fibre is present in oats, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, and some fruits and vegetables.

Insoluble fibre

Insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water. This fibre helps food move through your body and can prevent constipation. Insoluble fibre is present in whole grains — such as brown rice, wheat bran, and quinoa — leafy greens, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and skin-on fruits.

Health Benefits 

  • Digestive Health: Fibre promotes regular bowel movements, prevents constipation, and helps maintain a healthy digestive system.
  • Weight Management: High-fibre foods are often lower in calories and provide a feeling of fullness, which can aid in weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.
  • Blood Sugar Control: Soluble fibre can help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar, which is beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing it

  • Heart Health: A high-fibre diet is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Fibre helps lower cholesterol levels and reduces blood pressure, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.

  • Colon Health: Adequate fibre intake is linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Fibre can help remove waste and toxins from the colon, promoting a healthy environment.

  • Appetite Control: Fibre-rich foods take longer to chew and digest, promoting a feeling of fullness and helping control appetite, which can be beneficial for weight management.

  • Blood Pressure Regulation: Some studies suggest that a diet high in fibre may contribute to lower blood pressure levels, reducing the risk of hypertension.

  • Improved Gut Microbiota: Fibre serves as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut microbiome is associated with various health benefits, including improved immunity and digestion.

  • Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A high-fibre diet is linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Fibre helps regulate blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity.

  • Cholesterol Management: Soluble fibre, found in foods like oats and beans, can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, contributing to better heart health.

  • Healthy Aging: Adequate fibre intake is associated with a lower risk of age-related diseases, contributing to overall health and longevity.

  • Skin Health: Fibre helps eliminate toxins from the body, which can contribute to clearer skin and a healthier complexion.

Tips for a high-fibre diet

If you want to add more fibre to your diet, here are some tips to get you started.

  • Start small with plenty of water. Adding too much fibre too quickly or without enough water can lead to uncomfortable side effects like cramping, excessive gas, or constipation.
  • Be active. Movement is important when you increase your fibre intake, to avoid constipation.
  • Eat the skin. Most of the fibre in fruits and vegetables is present in the skin. Eat potatoes, apples, and pears, for example, with the skin on. Just make sure to rinse them first.
  • Switch to whole grains. Whole grains have far more fibre than their refined-grain counterparts. Whole grain pasta, breads, oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grains are widely available in most grocery stores.
  • Try plant-based proteins. Beans, lentils, split peas, and other plant protein sources are typically high in fibre and can be added to or take the place of meat. For example, try swapping half of your ground meat with black beans next taco night.
  • Add fruits and vegetables. An easy way to boost the fibre in your favourite dishes is to add fruits or vegetables. For example, toss spinach into chicken noodle soup. Add berries and oats to your morning yoghurt. The possibilities are endless.
  • Enjoy nuts and seeds. You can sprinkle these on salads and soups, and include them in smoothies.

Examples of fibre in foods

Vegetables are a brilliant source of fibre that you can easily add to your meals to help you meet your daily goals. Here are some examples of fibre-rich vegetables:

  • Broccoli: 2.6g of fibre per 100g, including both soluble and insoluble fibre.
  • Brussels Sprouts: 3.9g Brussels sprouts are a great source of fibre, with 3.9g of mostly soluble fibre per 100g.
  • Carrots: 2.8g fibre contains both soluble and insoluble fibre, with a slightly higher concentration of insoluble fibre.
  • Peas: 6g of dietary fibre per 100g serving, including both soluble and insoluble fibre.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are not only delicious but also contain approximately 4g of fibre in a medium-sized cooked sweet potato. This is a great addition to any meal – try to eat with the skin for maximum goodness!
  • Chia seeds: One of the best vegetarian sources of omega-3 fats, they are high in protein, calcium and iron, and have 11g of fibre per serving. The fibre in chia seeds is mainly the soluble type, meaning it slows digestion, helps you feel full and binds to bad cholesterol.
  • Hummus: Hummus is also one of the best sources of fibre with 15g per serving thanks to its main ingredient, chickpeas almost 1 gram per tablespoon, which helps make your snack or meal more filling and satisfying.

Fibre Comparisons in Pasta

  • White Pasta

200 calories, 43 grams (g) of carbs, 7g of protein, and 3g of fibre.

  • Whole wheat Pasta

80 calories, 39g of carbs, 8g of protein, and 7g of fibre.

  • Vegetable Pasta

Typically, a small 60g lunchtime serving contains 200 calories, 41g of carbs, 8g of protein, and 4g of fibre.

  • Chickpea Pasta

Slightly fewer calories double the fibre, and up to double the protein, Chickpea pasta has 190 calories, 35g of carbs, 11g of protein, and 8g of fibre.

  • Red Lentil Pasta

180 calories, 34g of carbs, 13g of protein, and 6g of fibre.

Roast Garlic & Tomato Tart Tatin Aisling Larkin kieran cuddihy newstalk

Roast Garlic Tomato Tarte Tatin

Buttery Puff Pastry, Sweet Tomato, Roast Garlic, Balsamic…. I mean no more words are needed. Make this with a glut of tomatoes some neighbours brings and then share this joyful tart.

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