Your guide to dietary fibre

Your guide to dietary fibre

We’re forever being told what to eat, when to eat and how to eat. But here at Birds Eye, we’re all about helping you find the right balance. When we discovered that most of us aren’t eating enough fibre (let alone the recommended amount of vegetables and fruits!), we decided to make it our mission to put fibre on the map.

Fibre really is an essential part of a healthy diet and is best found in plant-based foods – like our nutritious Green Cuisine range filled with green goodies for foodies. As such, it’s no wonder that a flexitarian diet is becoming popular, thanks to its range of nutritional and health benefits, sustainability credentials and variety and balance. If you’re unsure about what fibre has to offer, then look no further as we’re here to give you the low-down on how it can help you. And who knows – you may just adopt a new type of diet!

What is dietary fibre?

Fibre (sometimes referred to as ‘roughage’), is a type of complex carbohydrate found in plant-based foods which cannot be completely broken down by our digestive systems. Within our bodies, fibre passes undigested into our large bowel, as it’s not broken down and absorbed into our small bowel like some other nutrients.

There are two types of fibre - soluble and insoluble:

  • Soluble fibre as the name suggests, dissolves in water, forming a gel-like material. Soluble fibre is found in foodstuffs like oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots and barley.
  • Insoluble fibre helps to move the things you eat through your digestive system. It also increases stool bulk. Whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans and vegetables, such as peas, cauliflower, green beans and sweet potatoes, are great sources of insoluble fibre.

The amount of soluble and insoluble fibre varies in different plant foods. You’ll get the greatest health benefit by eating a wide range of high-fibre foods. Remember freezing vegetables actually locks in all the goodness. So, if you fill your freezer with lots of Birds Eye frozen vegetables and new Green Cuisine Meat-Free burgers, sausages and Swedish-style balls, you simply can’t go wrong

 

Why do we need fibre? 

Eating foods rich in fibre can aid digestion and prevent constipation as well as it makes us feel fuller for longer. There is also proof that following eating the recommended amount of fibre daily decreases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. 

We are currently eating under the recommended 30g of fibre a day, with many of us eating considerably less than this amount. That’s why we’re keen to help you include more fibre into your diet just by showing you the range of foods that you never would expect to have a high amount of fibre.

How to increase your fibre intake?

We know that not everyone lives the 9-5 lifestyle, as work and life commitments can often takeover day to day. With a lack of time on our hands, it can be tricky to cook from scratch and keep check of what we’re eating every day. However, there are still a number of ways you can include more fibre into your daily diet.

The fab thing about fibre is that you can get creative in the kitchen by experimenting with new recipes and tastes that are full of fibre! A homemade pea dip, pulse-packed veggie chilli or sweet potato jackets with baked beans are just a handful of meals that are tasty and nutritious.

Give breakfast a boost

Choose a wholegrain breakfast cereal – this can give you 5g of fibre or even more.  Then add milk and sprinkle on some of your favourite dried fruits too if you like. Porridge, berries and seeds make a very tasty combo too. You could also try some wholegrain toast with peanut butter and a serving of fruit to freshen up your taste buds.

 

Be an advocate of avocados

The tasty, green flesh of avocados is packed with healthy, monounsaturated fatty acids, it’s also packed with fibre. In fact, just half an avocado gives you more than 5g of fibre. You can even use a nice ripe avocado to spread on wholemeal toast instead of butter or to top salads and other dishes – very tasty indeed.

 

Seek out whole grains

Try to eat at least half of all grains as whole grains. Look for breads that list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label. Go for it and try to be a little more adventurous. Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta and bulgur wheat - it’s fun to try something new.

Bulk up your baking habits 

If you bake bread and cakes, try and replace half or all white flour with whole-grain flour. You can also add seeds, crushed bran cereal, unprocessed wheat bran or uncooked oatmeal to cakes and biscuits – they can add great taste
and texture.

 

Pick up your pulse intake

Peas, beans and lentils are tasty sources of fibre and a great replacement for some or even all of your meatier meals.  Add fresh beans, Birds Eye Peas or Birds Eye Italian 3 Bean Mix, to tinned soup or a green salad. Or go Mexican and make nachos with refried black beans, lots of Birds Eye veggies, whole-wheat tortilla chips and salsa.

 

Make every snack a healthy snack

Fruits, vegetables, wholegrain toast with hummus… there are simply loads of good choices which provide a good fibre punch. A small handful of nuts, seeds and dried fruits are also healthy, high-fibre snacks.

Vegetables that are high in fibre

Vegetables are one of those foods which seem too good to be true. They’re wonderfully delicious and versatile, and they provide us with loads of nutritional benefits.

For example peas and broccoli are delicious – and they’re high fibre vegetables, which also offer plenty of protein and folic acid. And it doesn’t stop there! Other vegetables such as green beans, sweetcorn, edamame, carrots and cauliflower are also packed with fibre as well as being naturally low in fats and sugars.
And if you’re a fan of spuds, you’re in luck as sweet potatoes (especially with the skin on) are also bursting with fibre.
Along with these vegetables, beans, pulses and lentils can also give you the fibre boost you’re looking for as they can easily be added to enhance everyday meals. 

Since many of us are lacking in our daily fibre consumption, we’re doing our bit with our new Green Cuisine range – delicious, plant-based foods that are rich in protein and provide fibre. Not only does our range contain all the lovely protein and fibre goodness, you’ll be convinced you’re actually chomping on meat thanks to its meaty texture and sumptuous flavour. 
So why not give our Meat-Free Burgers, Sausages and Swedish Style Balls a cheeky try if you’re looking to boost your fibre intake? You may just find out there’s an accidental veggie waiting to be unleashed...