All too familiar with that mid-morning, mid-afternoon (or even midnight) stomach rumble?
Although you may pile your plate high with an abundance of vibrant veggies and leafy greens, the issue you may be facing is a diet lacking in fibre-rich food. The Heart Foundation recommends that adults should aim to consume approximately 25–30 g daily, and according to their research, most of us struggle to reach this figure.
To recap, fibre is a non digestible carbohydrate which comes in two varieties; soluble and insoluble. Most plant-based foods contain a mixture of the two – which is great news for vegans! Soluble fibre turns to a gel-like substance in the stomach which helps to slow the emptying process, helping you feel fuller for longer. It also helps to lower cholesterol and stabilise blood glucose levels. Insoluble fibre on the other hand, adds bulk to your stool, helping to keep things moving easily and regularly.
Whilst protein has often claimed the spotlight in ‘keeping you full’, the indigestible compounds of high fibre foods are often more effective in helping you feel satisfied for longer, whilst providing an array of additional digestive benefits and helping to reduce the risk of stroke, hypertension and heart disease.
Incorporating more foods from the following plant-based list can help you feel fuller for longer, without having to increase your portion sizes.
If you’re looking for the best ingredient to boost your fibre intake, then look no further than the mighty lentil. Packing in almost 16g of fibre per cup, they can transform your favourite soups, stews and curries into hearty high fibre meals in an instant.
Like lentils, beans also pack an impressive punch of fibre and protein, whilst also being low in fat. Black beans, lima beans, kidney beans and chickpeas top the list with 11-15g of fibre per cup, and can be easily kept on hand in tinned form. Although they can be high in salt and sugar, comfort food favourite baked beans are perfect poured over a baked potato or on toast for when you’re feeling lazy. Stock up!
With a whopping 4.5g of fibre per tablespoon, chia seeds are one of the best sources of fibre in the world! These super seeds absorb 10 times their weight in water, which become gel-like and expand in the stomach, helping to increase fullness and slow the absorption of the food you consume with them.
Add to oats and smoothies or sprinkle over salads and soups to pack in a helping of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids too.
Whilst most nuts contain an impressive amount of fibre, almonds come out on top with about 4g per handful. Packed with healthy fats and protein, you can also enjoy them in nut-butter form – just be sure to keep an eye on portion size as they are a more calorie dense source.
Cheap and easy to prepare, a big bowl of oats for breakfast helps you hit your fibre goals at the start of the day with 8g a serving, whilst keeping your blood sugar levels stable and stomach content right up to lunchtime.
Add a handful of high fibre raspberries or slice up a pear (with the skin left on) to bring your breakfast quota even higher.
As far as veggies go, broccoli brings a notable 5g of fibre per cooked cup to the table. This versatile vegetable can be thrown into stir fries, sautéed as a side or blitzed into soups, although gentle steaming is the best way to reap its health benefits.
Whole Wheat Pasta
Switching traditional ‘white’ pasta for the whole-wheat variety is a great way to introduce more fibre to your diet whilst enjoying your favourite meals. A cup of the good stuff provides a sterling 6.5g of fibre, which can be further increased once you add a couple of servings of vegetables or a nutty pesto.
Similarly, making the whole-wheat swap with bread and rice will also bring your fibre intake up without having to sacrifice your favourite carbs!
Because if there’s another excuse to eat chocolate, then we’ll gladly take it!
A 30g serving of 70-85% cocoa chocolate offers an impressive 3g of fibre, which is more than a slice of whole-grain bread!
Remember to introduce high fibre foods to your diet slowly to avoid abdominal discomfort and to drink plenty of water too!