A healthy diet includes eating plenty of fibre, which helps the digestive system work well. Vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes (beans, peas and lentils – including dried forms, which are called pulses) are high in fibre.
Health Canada recommends that adult Canadians get 21 to 38 grams of fibre each day for good health.
Fibre and cancer risk
Eating plenty of fibre can help you maintain a healthy body weight, which reduces your risk of cancer. Research shows that a diet high in fibre protects against colorectal cancer.
Tips to eat more fibre
- Read the nutrition labels. High-fibre foods have at least 4 grams of fibre per serving.
- Choose foods made with whole grains rather than foods made with refined white flour.
- Look at the ingredients list rather than the colour of the foods. Some brown bread is simply white bread coloured with molasses. The first ingredient should be a whole grain such as whole grain wheat, oats, whole grain corn, barley or brown or wild rice.
- Try different breads including whole grain, multi grain, chapattis, whole wheat pitas, bagels, roti and tortillas.
- Go for bran or whole grain breakfast cereals or mix some in with your favourite cereal or on top of low-fat yogurt.
- Choose oatmeal more often. It’s a great warming winter breakfast.
- Try different grains such as whole wheat couscous, bulgur and cornmeal.
- Swap whole wheat pasta for regular pasta for a change.
- Bake with whole wheat flour. You can substitute half of the white flour with whole wheat flour in most recipes. For example, if your recipe calls for 250 mL (1 cup) of flour, you can use half white and half whole wheat flour.
- Eat a baked potato with the skin on instead of mashed potatoes. Or leave the skin on when you boil potatoes for mashing.
- Add beans or lentils to your soups, casseroles, stews and curries.
- Try chickpeas in salads, lentils in meatloaf or kidney beans in burritos.
- Serve hummus as a high-fibre dip with vegetables and whole wheat crackers instead of doughnuts or cookies at workplace meetings.
- Snack on dried fruit, nuts and seeds mid-afternoon or add them to yogurt.
- Add raisins and nuts to bread or muffin recipes.