What is Fibre?

Types of Fibre

There are two types of fibre found in food:

  • Soluble fibre lowers your blood cholesterol and helps manage your blood sugar.
  • Insoluble fibre helps prevent constipation (not able to poo), keeps your digestive system healthy, and prevents some types of cancers.

Fibre is the part of the plant that your body cannot digest or break down. It is often called “roughage”. Fibre is only found in plant foods.

Examples of plant foods include:

  • vegetables and fruit
  • whole grains and cereals
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds

Eating fibre helps you manage your health and can help you:

  • lower your blood sugar
  • lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • lower your blood pressure

Fibre also helps you feel full longer, after a meal. Feeling full longer can help you eat the right amount of food for your body (and not too much).

As fibre passes through your digestive system, it attaches to fat and sugar. This delays absorption into your body. The waste is then removed from your body when you have a bowel movement (poo). Regular bowel movements help keep your digestive tract healthy.

Types of Fibre

There are two types of fibre found in food — soluble and insoluble. Eating a wide variety of plant foods will ensure you are getting enough of both types of fibre. 

Foods with soluble fibre absorb water. The water makes the fibre swell and thicken to form a sticky gel. Soluble fibre can help:

  • lower your blood cholesterol
  • manage your blood sugar

Some examples of food that are high in soluble fibre include:

  • barley
  • oats
  • psyllium husk and psyllium fibre- containing cereals
  • ground flax seed
  • okra
  • avocado
  • chickpeas
  • dried and canned beans (black beans, kidney beans, white beans)
  • lentils
  • sweet potato
  • turnip
  • squash
  • brussels sprouts
  • eggplant
  • pears
  • berries
  • apples
  • oranges

Foods with insoluble fibre do not absorb water. Insoluble fibre:

  • helps prevent constipation (not able to poo)
  • keeps your digestive system healthy
  • prevents some types of cancers

Insoluble fibre is found in the bran portion of whole grains and the skins of fruit and vegetables. Some examples include:

  • celery
  • cabbage
  • green beans
  • broccoli
  • the skin on kidney beans and other legumes
  • leafy green vegetables
  • root vegetable skins (potatoes, carrots, parsnips)
  • cereal
  • whole grain breads and cereals (such as wheat and rye)
  • wheat bran
  • corn bran
  • brown rice
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • prunes

How Much Fibre Do I Need To Manage My Diabetes?

Eat Enough Fibre

Women should aim for 25 grams or more of fibre each day

Men should aim for 38 grams or more of fibre each day.

To keep your body healthy and manage your blood sugar, women should aim for 25 grams or more of fibre each day, and men should aim for 38 grams or more of fibre each day.  If you do not eat this much fibre, try to increase the amount of fibre that you eat to this amount.

  • Increase the amount of fibre you eat slowly, over time. This will help prevent gas and bloating.
  • As you eat more fibre, make sure you drink enough water. More water will help the fibre work better and helps to prevent gas and bloating.

What is the Glycemic Index (GI)?

The Glycemic Index (GI) ranks foods and drinks that have carbohydrates using a scale of low, medium, and high GI. This scale is used to see how quickly the carbohydrates in these foods and drinks raise your blood sugar after eating and drinking them.

  • Foods with a high GI digest and absorb quickly into your body, and raise your blood sugar higher and faster after eating. Limit the amount of food you eat that has a high GI number.
  • Foods with a low to medium GI digest and absorb more slowly into your body. These foods take a longer time to raise your blood sugar and cause a lower rise in blood sugars. Choose foods with a low to medium GI more often.

The Glycemic Index does not rank foods based on how nutritious they are. This means that some foods may have a low GI, but may not be high in nutrition. It is best to eat foods with a low GI that are also high in other beneficial nutrients, like fibre.

How Can Low GI Foods Help Me Manage My Diabetes?

Research shows that eating foods that have lower GI can help you:

  • manage your blood sugar better
  • lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood)
  • lower your risk of getting heart disease
  • feel full longer, after eating

Tip: Check your blood sugar 2 hours after you start eating a meal. This can help you understand how different foods with low, medium, or high Glycemic Index can affect your blood sugar. 

Eat More Low Glycemic Index Foods

The more processed a food is, or the quicker it is digested, the higher the Glycemic Index (GI). Processed foods have a high GI because much of the nutrients and fibre have been removed or broken. This means the food digests quickly, and the carbohydrates absorb faster in your body. Eat whole, fresh foods instead of processed foods more often.  

Limit foods with a high GI, including:

  • Instant noodles
  • Instant rice
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • White bread
  • Soda crackers
  • French fries
  • Baking potatoes
  • Sugary drinks like juice and pop 

Choose foods with a low to medium GI more often:

  • Choose steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal.
  • Choose long-grain rice, such as basmati or brown rice, instead of instant short-grain or sticky rice.
  • Choose sweet potatoes or yams instead of instant mashed potatoes.
  • Choose to eat legumes (such as kidney beans, lentils, split peas, and chickpeas) more often.
  • Choose fresh or frozen fruit instead of fruit juice. Juice is the processed form of fruit and will quickly raise your blood sugar.

The amount of food you eat can affect your blood sugar even if the food has a low GI. For example, eating a large portion of a low GI food such as pasta can still result in a high blood sugar reading. Try to eat moderate portion sizes of foods that are high in carbohydrates.

How Can I Eat More Fibre?

Eat More Fibre

Tips to increase the amount of fibre you eat:

  • Add high fibre foods to your meals and recipes.
  • Include fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables in every snack and meal.
  • Fill half your plate with vegetables.
  • Choose cereal that is high in fibre.

There are many ways to eat more fibre in your diet. Below are tips on how to increase the amount of fibre you eat:

  • Start your day with a cereal that is high in fibre. Try steel cut oats, Bran buds® or Fibre 1® cereal.
  • Add foods that are high in fibre to your cereal and yogurt. These foods include:
    • fruit
    • nuts
    • ground flax seeds​​​
    • chia seeds
    • psyllium or oat bran
  • Add high fibre foods (like the ones listed above) to recipes when you cook or bake.
  • Plan your meals and snacks to always include fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables.
  • Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables. The more colour on your plate, the more fibre and the more nutrition you get.
  • Add other foods that are high in fibre to meals. For example, add legumes such as beans, dried peas, chickpeas, or lentils.
    • Try adding kidney beans or chickpeas to salads or rice dishes.
    • Put lentils or black beans in soups.
    • Include a bean salad as a side dish.

How Much Fibre is in Plant Foods?

Below is a list of plant foods and the amount of fibre each one contains. Use this list to help increase the amount of fibre you eat.

FoodServing SizeTotal Fibre (g)
Artichoke, cookedmedium4.7
Asparagus, cooked6 spears1.8
Beans, snap (Italian, green or yellow) cooked125 mL (½ cup)2.1
Beets, skinless, cooked125 mL (½ cup)1.8
Broccoli, cooked125 mL (½ cup)2.0
Brussels sprouts, cooked125 mL (½ cup)3.0
Carrots, cooked125 mL (½ cup)2.2
Carrot, raw1 medium1.5
Collard greens, cooked125 mL (½ cup)4.0
Corn, yellow on or off the cob, cooked125 mL (½ cup)2.1
Eggplant, cooked125 mL (½ cup)1.3
Kale, cooked125 mL (½ cup)1.4
Okra, cooked125 mL (½ cup)2.1
Peas, green, cooked125 mL (½ cup)5.6
Pepper, green or redmedium1.1
Potato, white, with skin, baked1 small2.9
Papini, cooked½ cup1.8
Spinach, cooked½ cup2.3
Spinach, raw1 cup0.7
Sweet potato, cooked, skinless125 mL (½ cup)3.5
Squash, cooked125 mL (½ cup)1.3
Turnip, cooked125 mL (½ cup)1.6

FoodServing SizeTotal Fibre (g)
Apple with skin1 medium3.5
Apricots, raw, with skin32.1
Apricots, dried60 mL (¼ cup)1.7
Avocado½ fruit6.7
Banana1 medium2.1
Blueberries125 mL (½ cup)2.0
Figs, dried21.6
Fig, fresh22.9
Mango½ fruit1.7
Nectarine, raw with skin1 medium2.3
Orange1 medium2.3
Peach, raw with skin1 medium2.9
Pear, with skin1 medium5.3
Pineapple125 mL (½ cup)1.2
Prunes, dried32.1
Plum, with skin1 medium1.1
Raspberries125 mL (½ cup)4.2
Strawberries125 mL (½ cup)2.0

FoodServing SizeTotal Fibre (g)
Bran Buds (with Psyllium)30 g (⅓ cup)11.2
Barley, pearled, cooked125 mL (½ cup)2.0
Bread, whole grain30 g (1 slice)2.1
Brown rice, medium grain, cooked125 mL (½ cup)2.0
Bread, rye35 g (1 slice)1.4
Bran cereal (non-flake)30 g (½ cup)9.7
Crisp bread crackers, rye3 crackers5.0
Melba toast, whole wheat4 crackers1.5
Oat bran, cooked175 mL (¾ cup)5.9
Oatmeal, cooked175 g (¾ cup)3.7
Cheerios™30 g (1 cup)3.2
Pasta , cooked (whole wheat)125 mL (½ cup)2.1
Quinoa, cooked125 mL (½ cup)2.7

FoodServing SizeTotal Fibre (g)
Almonds60 mL (¼ cup)3.8
Black beans, cooked250 mL (1 cup)12.7
Chickpeas, cooked250 mL (1 cup)7.9
Cashews33 g (¼ cup)1.0
Edamame, (soybean, green, cooked)125 mL (½ cup)4.0
Flax seed (linseed), ground15 ml (1 Tbsp)1.9
Kidney beans, cooked250 mL (1 cup)12.3
Lentils, cooked250 mL (1 cup)8.9
Lima beans, cooked250 mL (1 cup)9.5
Soybean, cooked250 mL (1 cup)11.4
Sunflower seeds, dry roasted60 mL (¼ cup)3.6
Tofu, fried pieces150 g (¾ cup)5.8
Peanuts60 mL (¼ cup)3.1

Here is a sample menu showing how to eat enough fibre in one day.

BreakfastAmount of Fibre (g)
Oatmeal, cooked 175 g (¾ cup)3.7
Blueberries, ½ cup2.0
Soy beverage or skim milk, 1 cup0
Almonds, ¼ cup3.8
Flax seed (linseed), ground, 1 tbsp1.9
Breakfast Total​11.4
LunchAmount of Fibre (g)
Spinach salad, 3 cups2.1
Chickpeas, canned, low sodium, 1 cup7.9
Cherry tomatoes, 151.5
Whole grain bread, 1 slice2.1
Homemade dressing, olive oil & balsamic vinegar0
Lunch Total15.7
DinnerAmount of Fibre (g)
Grilled salmon, 4 oz (120 g)0
Rapini, cooked, 1 cup3.7
Carrots, cooked, ½ cup2.2
Quinoa, cooked, 1 cups5.4
Dinner Total​11.3

Total Fibre for the Day: 38.4g

Source: “Canadian Nutrient File 2015