Fibre and Your Health

HealthLinkBC File Number: 
68h
Last Updated: 
March 2021

What is fibre?

Fibre, also called dietary fibre, is the part of plant foods that the body cannot digest. Fibre is found in vegetables and fruit, whole grain foods, nuts and seeds, and dried beans, peas and lentils. Fibre can be either insoluble or soluble. Most foods have a combination of both.

Canada’s food guide recommends eating whole grain foods like oats, quinoa and brown rice. Whole grains include all parts of the grain and have more fibre than refined grains. They also have more vitamins and minerals.

Why is fibre important?

Eating high-fibre foods can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer.

Insoluble fibre can help keep your gut healthy and prevent constipation.

Soluble fibre can help:

  • Lower your blood cholesterol level
  • Control your blood sugar levels
  • Keep you feeling full longer

How much fibre do I need?

Depending on your age and sex, aim for the following amount of fibre each day:

Age (years) Male Female
1 to 3 19 g 19 g
4 to 8 25 g 25 g
9 to 13 31 g 26 g
14 to18 38 g 26 g
19 to 50 38 g 25 g
51 to 70+ 30 g 21 g
Pregnancy (any age) / 28 g
Breast feeding (any age) / 29 g

g = gram

People with intestinal diseases may not be able to eat large amounts of fibre, or may need to limit certain food sources of fibre. Speak with your health care provider or registered dietitian to find out how much fibre is right for you.

How can I increase the amount of fibre I eat?

Add fibre to your diet slowly to limit gas, cramping and discomfort. As you increase the amount of fibre in your diet, drink more fluids such as water to help keep your bowel movements soft. Here are some tips to eat more high fibre foods every day:

  • Include a vegetable or fruit at every meal and snack.
  • Start the day with a whole grain breakfast cereal such as oatmeal or whole grain bread
  • Add cooked brown or wild rice, quinoa, pot barley or bulgur to your soup, salad or stir fry
  • Add cooked lentils or beans to your soup, casserole, pasta sauce or salad
  • Add dried fruits, nuts or seeds to yogurt, muffins, or salads, or eat them on their own

If you find it hard to eat enough fibre from food, talk to your health care provider or registered dietitian about a fibre supplement.

Tips for Reading Food Labels

Check the nutrition facts table on packaged foods for the amount of fibre in a serving. Look for labels that say “high” or “very high” source of fibre, which means the food has at least 4 to 6 grams of fibre per serving.

To identify whole grain foods, check the ingredient list for the words “whole grain” followed by the name of the grain as one of the first ingredients. For example, look for a whole grain flour as a first ingredient in bread. Whole wheat foods, such as 100% whole wheat bread, may not be whole grain but they are still a good source of fibre.

For more nutrition information, call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered dietitian.

Food Sources of Fibre

Food Serving Size Total Fibre (grams)
Vegetables and fruit
Apple, with skin 1 medium 3.5
Avocado ½ fruit 6.7
Banana or kiwi

1 medium

2.1
Blackberries or raspberries 125 mL or ½ cup 4.1
Brussels sprouts 4 sprouts 3.1
Corn, carrot or broccoli, cooked 125 mL or ½ cup 2.2
Green peas, frozen, cooked 125 mL or ½ cup 3.7
Mango 1 fruit 3.3
Mixed vegetables or yam, cooked 125 mL or ½ cup 2.8
Pear, canned halves 125 mL or ½ cup 2.1
Pear, with skin 1 medium 5.3
Potato, with skin 1 medium 4.0
Yellow beans, cooked 125 mL or ½ cup 9.7
Grains
All bran cereals (any kind) 30 g 10.0*
Bran flakes 30 g 4.6*
Bran, 100% natural wheat bran 30 mL or 2 Tbsp 3.1
Bread, sprouted grain 35 g or 1 slice 3.3 to 5.0*
Oat Bran, prepared 175 mL or ¾ cup 3.7*
Oatmeal, large oats, prepared 175 mL or ¾ cup 3.2*
Popcorn, air-popped 500 mL or 2 cups

2.5

Quinoa, amaranth or bulgur, cooked 125 mL or ½ cup 2.7
Shredded Wheat 30 g 3.9*
Whole wheat spaghetti, cooked 125 mL or ½ cup 2.4*
Whole wheat bread, commercial 35 g or 1 slice 2.1*
Beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds
Adzuki beans, cooked 175 mL or ¾ cup 12.4
Almonds, dry roasted 60 mL or ¼ cup 3.8
Black beans, cooked or canned 175 mL or ¾ cup 10.6
Chia seeds 15 mL or 1 Tbsp 3.7
Edamame (green soy beans), cooked 175 mL or ¾ cup 6.0
Flax seeds, whole 15 mL or 1 Tbsp 2.9
Hummus 175 mL or ¾ cup 7 to 11
Kidney beans, dark red, cooked 175 mL or ¾ cup 8.6
Lentils or garbanzo beans (chickpeas), cooked 175 mL or ¾ cup 5.5
Peanut butter, natural 30 mL or 2 Tbsp 2.5
Peanuts, dry roasted 60 mL or ¼ cup 3.1
Soy nuts, roasted 175 mL or ¾ cup 6.8
Split peas, cooked 175 mL or ¾ cup 4.2
Sunflower seed kernels, dry roasted 60 mL or ¼ cup 3.6

g = gram, mL = millilitre, Tbsp = tablespoon
*Check the nutrition facts table to confirm the amount

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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