Fibre - role in the body + table of fibre-rich products

Fibre - role in the body + table of fibre-rich products

Fibre is a plant-based food ingredient that is not digested by the human digestive tract. This property results in its numerous health-promoting roles. It is a preventive measure against cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. What products are rich in fibre? How much fibre should we eat per day? Check out the table of the best sources of fibre.

Fibre - what is it?

Fibre represents a variety of complex carbohydrates and lignans that are not digested (resistant to the action of digestive enzymes) or absorbed in the human small intestine. Fibre also includes beta-glucans, mucilages, gums and waxes. For a long time, it was thought that dietary fibre was only a useless component of food that had no function. Nowadays, it is known that it has a very broad beneficial effect on the body. To show its positive properties, fibre must be consumed with water.

Fibre is divided into soluble and insoluble Insoluble one is called a physiological brush - it mechanically supports the functioning of the digestive system. The substances that form it are cellulose, some hemicelluloses and lignins. It is not fermented by the bacteria of the gut microbiota. Soluble fibre, on the other hand, forms gel-like structures and is fermented in the intestines by bacteria, which is the main reason for its properties. It contains pectins, gums, plant mucilages, and some hemicelluloses. In the dietary intake of fibre in the usual diet, insoluble fibre accounts for about 2/3 up to 3/4 of the total fibre.

Products rich in fibre - role in the body

Insoluble and soluble fibre have different roles in the body. Products rich in fibre contain its both types, but some of them are dominated by insoluble fibre, while others by soluble one. The majority of people who eat fibre as a preventive measure do not need to choose between products that provide more insoluble or soluble fibre, because both types are important for health. However, if you need to increase your fibre intake for specific health reasons, it is helpful to know which type of fibre to reach for.

Recommended fibre products

Insoluble fibre is responsible for:

  • stimulating chewing and saliva secretion,
  • increasing the volume of food in the small intestine by binding water,
  • facilitating defecation,
  • binding excess hydrochloric acid in the stomach,
  • secretion of digestive hormones and digestive juices,
  • stimulation of intestinal blood supply and peristalsis by mechanical irritation of intestinal walls,
  • protection against constipation and its consequences - rectal varices, polyps, diverticulosis, colon cancer,
  • increasing the feeling of satiety.

Where can you find the most insoluble fibre? In brown rice, wheat groats, white rice,rice, and wheat bran, buckwheat groats, dried figs, almonds and plums.

Dietary fibre can be divided into (so-called fibre fractions) soluble and insoluble fibre. The daily intake of dietary fibre should be between 20 and 40 g. High-fibre dietary fibres support the function of the digestive system through, for example, accelerated intestinal peristalsis

Soluble fibre:

  • slows down the passage of digestive contents,
  • bonds toxic compounds and speeds up their excretion from the gastrointestinal tract,
  • helps regulate lipid metabolism: binds excess cholesterol and bile acids as well as accelerates their excretion; delays the absorption of triglycerides into the blood; increases the excretion of fats,
  • reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, ischaemic heart disease and myocardial infarction,
  • slows down the absorption of glucose from the digestive tract into the blood,
  • is a source of butyric acid - as a result of fermentation by intestinal bacteria, butyric acid is produced, which is a source of energy for intestinal epithelial cells, supports their functioning and regeneration,
  • is a nutrient for the growth of intestinal microbiota.

Foods mainly rich in soluble fibre are chia seeds, linseed, oatmeal, pears, plums, apples, berries, carrots, beetroot and Brussels sprouts.

Source of fibre - how much fibre to eat per day?

The average western diet is low in fibre. Many people do not provide sufficient amounts of this valuable nutrient. Diets rich in fibre include the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, the vegetarian diet, or simply the diet based on the new food pyramid, where the basis of meals are vegetables and fruit, rather than cereal products.

Plant products, i.e. vegetables, fruit, pulses, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed cereal products are sources of fibre. Most fibre-containing foods are sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre but in different proportions.

Recommendations for fibre intake differ slightly around the world. According to European recommendations, adult women should consume at least 25 g of fibre per day and men 30 g. The World Health Organisation recommends a daily intake of 20-40 g.

The average daily intake of fibre in the Polish diet among women is 17.5 g, and 20.9 g in men. This is significantly less than the recommended amounts. According to the statistical data, in Poland fibre is supplied with the diet from:

  • cereals products in 41%,
  • vegetables and processed vegetables in 32%,
  • potatoes in 12 %,
  • fruit and processed fruit in 9%,
  • fruit and vegetable juices in 4%,
  • pulses at 2%.

Based on the healthy food pyramid, the main source of fibre in the diet should be non-starchy vegetables, followed by fruit, and to lesser extent cereal products. The average person in Poland should pay more attention to the amount of fibre in their diet and the sources from which they obtain it.

Dietary fibre is rich in compounds that are not digested in the digestive tract. It does not provide minerals. In which products can we find sources of dietary fibre? This is shown in the table below. Dietary fibre can regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

What is rich in fibre - table

Foods high in fibre include pulses, vegetables, fruit, cereal products, as well as nuts and seeds. Fibre can be obtained in the diet only from plant sources. Examples of foods rich in fiber are shown in the following table.

Food products Fibre content per 100g
Artichoke 5,4 g
Parsley root 4,9 g
Brussels sprouts 3,8 g
Aubergine 3 g
Carrot 2,8 g
Beetroot 2,8 g
Broccoli 2,6 g
Spinach 2,2 g
Tomatoes 1,2 g
Avokado 6,7 g
Raspberries 6,5 g
Black currant 5,3 g
Pear 3,1 g
Banana 2,6 g
Apple 2,4 g
Blueberries 2,4 g
Strawberries 2 g
Dried pulses
Pea halves 8,3 g
Lentils 7,3 g
Chickpeas 7 g
Red beans 6,8 g
Edamame bean 5,2 g
Seeds and nuts
Chia seeds 34,4 g
Linseed 27,3 g
Pumpkin seeds 18,4 g
Coconut pulp 16,3 g
Almonds 12,5 g
Sesame seeds 11,8 g
Sunflower seeds 11,1 g
Pistachios 10,6 g
Hazelnuts 9,7 g
Peanuts 8,5 g
Walnuts 6,7 g
Cashew nuts 3,3 g
Cereal products
Oat flakes 10,1 g
Whole-grain pasta 8 g
Corn seeds for pop-corn 7,3 g
Whole-grain bread/td> 6 g
Barley (Pearled barley) 6 g
Quinoa 2,8 g
Brown rice 1,8 g

What is fibre in - what should I eat to get the required amount of fibre?

It is not difficult to meet the recommended fibre intake as long as you know where to find it and make sure you include fruit or vegetables in each meal. However, it is important to remember that fruit is not equal to vegetables. We don't treat them interchangeably, because although fruit is a source of vitamins and antioxidants, it also provides a lot of simple sugars. For every 3 portions of vegetables, there should be 1 portion of fruit. Alongside vegetables, pulses are a very valuable source of fibre. Eating a Mexican burrito or lentil soup is an easy way of providing a lot of fibre. Similarly, reaching for nuts. Bread and cereal products should not be the primary sources of fibre in the diet, but their addition is recommended.

What should I eat to get the right amount of fibre each day?Food combinations containing fibre in the required amounts include:

  • 1/2 cup of cooked beans + 1/2 medium broccoli + 2 slices of whole-grain bread + apple + pear = 27 g of fibre
  • 3 carrots + a glass of cooked lentils + an apple + half a glass of oatmeal = 26 g of fibre
  • 1 cup of cooked durum wheat noodles with 1/4 cup of tomato sauce + 1 medium pepper + 1 cup of blueberries + avocado = 28 g fibre
  • handful of radishes + 2 tomatoes + 3 cups of popcorn + banana + 2 slices of whole grain bread + 1 tablespoon of peanut butter = 26 g fibre
  • 2 small baked potatoes + 1 pear + 5 teaspoons hummus + 1 glass of traditional vegetable salad + a plate of vegetable cream soup = 27 g fibre