You’ve packed in protein, covered your carbs and cooked your meal in good fats. But have you added fiber? Most of us (if not most) tend to ignore this equally important ingredient for good health.
Fibre is not just essential for an easy (and satisfactory) trip to the loo, first thing in the morning, studies have found that getting your recommended daily allowance — 18 to 30 grams a day depending on age and gender — protects you against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. And that’s just the beginning of the list of benefits.
Having a high-fibre diet also increases your lifespan, gives you radiant skin and makes you feel full, thereby helping you lose weight. Unfortunately, most research shows that nine out of ten of us eat less fibre than required.
Include these 10 tasty foods in your diet to up your fibre intake:
Rustle up a tangy guacamole dip and enjoy it with carrot sticks or whole grain crackers for a high-fibre evening snack. A medium-sized avocado contains around 10 grams of fibre. Moreover, the creamy flesh is packed with good fats — mono and polyunsaturated fats — which help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Avocados also deliver a good dose of vitamins C, E, K, and B6 as well as folate and potassium.
Don’t skip the chutney served with your idlis just because you are on a diet. A cup of grated coconut pulp contains 7.2 grams of fibre, which is four to six times higher than the amount of fibre in oat bran. And, the tropical fruit is also super heart-healthy!
In regions where coconut is an integral part of meals, there is the lower rate of heart disease.
The humble pea which plays a side role in your favourite mushroom matar, and matar paneer dishes is actually a lead star in the world of fibrous foods. A cup of boiled peas contains 8.6 grams of fibre, most of which is insoluble fibre. This type of fibre draws water from your intestines into your food, making you feel fuller faster and expediting its passage through your digestive tract. The tiny green wonders also boost of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and phytonutrients that improve health.
These candy-like treats are far from sinful. Raspberries offer one of the best fibre-per-calorie deal on the planet. Each cup of the jewel-like berries contains around 8 grams of fibre which will take care of 1/3rd of your total daily requirement. Raspberries are also packed with nutrients such as vitamins C and B-complex, manganese, copper, and iron. The biggest bonus: these berries have an anti-ageing potential.
Don’t skip the bowl of dal in a bid to lose weight. It is as rich in fibre, perhaps even more than the sabzis you gorge on thinking they are healthy. A cup of cooked lentils contains 15.6 grams of fibre. They are also a great source of proteins, Vitamin B, iron and various minerals.
Have a pear a day to get fibre in a yummy way. A medium-sized pear contains more than 5 grams of fibre, three of which is insoluble. This makes pears an ideal companion for weight watchers and those battling constipation. Moreover, the tangy fruit also helps control blood pressure and cholesterol level.
The quaint purple-green fruits sold by the street-side vendor are not just delicious, they’re also a rich source of fiber! A 100-gram portion of figs contains 2.2 grams of fibre. But if this fruit is not available in your city, stock up on dried figs which you usually find in Diwali dry fruit hampers. These are an even better bet with 5.6 grams of fibre per 100 grams. Figs also contain prebiotics, which helps support the good bacteria in your body thereby giving a boost to your digestion.
Don’t just switch from white bread to brown! Make sure you are buying bread made with whole grain, not refined wheat. During the refining process, manufacturers usually remove the bran from the grain to make it softer and more appealing. However, this leaves the wheat with little or no fibre and nutrients. For the same reason, you should not sieve the flour you use at home before making rotis and choose brown rice at the supermarket. A cup of cooked brown rice contains 1.8 grams of fibre per 100-grams compared to cooked long-grain white rice which has just 0.4 grams.
Sprinkle a teaspoon of ground flaxseeds on your cereal or yogurt every morning. Two tablespoons of flaxseeds contain up to four grams of fibre, including the mucilaginous fibre which delays gastric emptying and therefore improves absorption of nutrients. But remember, if you pre-grind flax seeds, you should store the mixture in the refrigerator. Grinding leads to the release of oils which can oxidise at room temperature.
When you are fed up with healthy food (no more greens, puh-leeze!) and need something to munch on, go for a giant tub of popcorn. A 3-cup serving of air-popped popcorn contains 3.5 grams of fibre and that too both soluble and insoluble. Just make sure you choose a low-fat, low-salt version or make it yourself with your choice of herbs and spices. Consider this: a portion of popcorn contains as much fibre as half a cup of diced carrots or 1 whole peach. Food for thought, ain’t it?