If I had to give you a single piece of health advice, this would be it: Eat more fibre.
It’s something I say so often that it feels like it’s become the battle cry for nutritionists everywhere. And rightly so: Diets high in fibre offer a virtual treasure trove of health benefits.
Fibre can reduce your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. And because it’s filling, it can also help you maintain a healthy weight and fight obesity. A recent Dutch study found that eating more fibre may help prevent weight gain around the middle, while another study from the US National Institutes of Health found that getting plenty of fibre can help you live longer.
Still, most of us skimp on the daily fibre recommendations. Compare the average fibre intake in Australia of 20 g a day to the 25 g recommended for women and 38 g recommended for men. The Heart Foundation recommends that adults consume about 30 g of fibre a day.
The solution is simple: Make a few small changes in the foods you choose every day, and you’ll easily boost your fibre intake. Here are some easy tweaks, meal by meal:
- High-fibre cereal: Start the day with one that has at least 5 grams of fibre per serving.
- Oatmeal: Opt for it once or twice a week. It’s great for lowering cholesterol.
- Fruit and nuts: Top off cereal with fibre-packed additions, like sliced bananas, fresh blackberries, dried cranberries or blueberries, and chopped pecans. The American Dental Association says that choosing high-fibre fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps reduce the risk of cavities.
- Beans: Choose a bean dish; beans are packed with fibre and nutrients.
- Lentils: When out for lunch, order a lentil soup. Lentils, like beans, are full of fibre.
- Whole grains: Make the switch to wholegrain breads and buns for sandwiches and burgers.
- Fruit and crackers: Pack fresh fruit (apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, cantaloupe, sliced mango or papaya) and wholegrain crackers to munch on between meals.
- Soybeans: Snack on roasted soybeans, rich in nutrients and a good source of high-quality protein, to stave off hunger later.
- Popcorn: Pop low-fat popcorn in the microwave.
- Pasta: Switch from regular pasta and white rice to whole-wheat pasta and brown rice.
- Veggies, meats and wholegrains: Make vegetables and wholegrains the focus of the meal, with meat, fish or poultry as a side dish.
Pizza: On pizza night, be sure to pile on the veggies -- mushrooms, onions, red peppers, broccoli and tomatoes.
By Denise Webb for Oral Care and Health Daily