Diet & Nutrition
   
 

Dietary Fibre and Your Body

Dietary fibre is the part of food that cannot be digested by our bodies. Therefore, there is a misconception that dietary fibre is just food remains. Dietary fibre can be simply divided into two types: soluble and insoluble fibre. Both can be found in different types of food and serve different functions in the body.

The health benefits of dietary fibre

Intake of adequate amount of foods rich in dietary fibre helps in preventing of many chronic diseases and improving body health.

  • Prevention and relief of constipation
    Dietary fibre increases the bulk of stool and stimulates motion of the large intestine. It absorbs water, lubricates the large intestine and makes defecation easier.

  • Helps in maintaining gut health
    Dietary fibre stimulates the activity of “good” bacteria in the intestine which might in turn maintains gut health.

  • Protection against cancer of the large intestine
    Dietary fibre prevents the accumulation of cancer-causing (or carcinogenic) materials because it shortens the retention period of waste materials.

  • Weight-control and reduce the chance of being obese
    Eating food rich in dietary fiber relatively requires more time for chewing. This can make people feel full easily, hence less food would be consumed.

  • Helps in stabilizing of blood sugar level and controlling of diabetes
    Soluble fibre can slow down the absorption of blood sugar.

  • Helps in lowering of blood cholesterol level, hence prevention of heart disease
    Soluble fibre combines with bile and then excretes it. This in turn lowers blood cholesterol.

Foods rich in dietary fibra

Examples include:

Cereals - wholemeal bread, red rice, oatmeal
Vegetables - kale, watercress, spinach
Root vegetables - potato, sweet potato
Beans - mung bean, kidney bean, black-eye bean, red bean
Fungi - straw mushroom, button mushroom, white fungus, black fungus,
Fruits - orange, grapefruit, prune
Others- sesame, chestnut, cashew nut, peanut

Daily dietary fibre requirement

Adolescence and adults need about 18-30g of dietary fibre everyday while children need less. Add 5 to a child's age to calculate the amount of dietary fibre needed per day (Age + 5 = grams of dietary fibre required per day).
For example, a 6-year-old child would need 11g of dietary fibre per day.

Source: Central Health Education Unit of Department of Health

Essential facts

  • Obtain dietary fibre from food rather than fibre tablets, powder or other supplements.
  • Consume different types of food rich in dietary fibre because dietary fibre from different food serve different functions.
  • Increase dietary fibre intake gradually to avoid gastrointestinal upset from sudden intake of large amounts of dietary fibre.
  • Take fruits and vegetables together with the skin, like unpeeled plums, grapes.
  • Fresh fruit is better than fruit juice because most of the dietary fibre in fruit is damaged when it is squeezed to make juice.
  • Dietary fibre absorbs a lot of water. For dietary fibre to function effectively, a daily intake of 6-8 glasses of fluid is required.
  • Although dietary fibre is important to health, we should not neglect other food types. A balanced diet and regular exercise are of utmost importance to good health.

Dietary fibre content in different types of food

Food type and amount Dietary fibre content (g)
Cereals
White rice (uncooked) 100g 0.6
White rice (cooked) 100g 0.2
Brown rice (uncooked) 100g 3.4
Brown rice (cooked) 100g 1.8
Wholemeal bread 100g 6.8
Wholemeal cereals 100g 11.7
Cornflakes 100g 3.6
Oatmeal (uncooked) 100g 10.1
Oatmeal (cooked) 100g 1.7
Fruits/dried fruits
Apple (with skin) 100g 2.4
Orange (peeled and seedless) 100g 2.4
Banana (peeled) 100g 2.6
Dried prune (seedless) 100g 7.1
Raisin (seedless) 100g 3.7
Fig 100g 2.9
Dates (seedless) 100g 6.7
Dried Apricot 100g 7.7
Vegetables
Broccoli (cooked) 100g 3.3
Kale (cooked) 100g 2
Watercress (cooked) 100g 1.2
Lettuce (raw) 100g 1.5
Onion (raw) 100g 1.7
Tomato (raw) 100g 1.2
Carrot (cooked and peeled) 100g 3
Corn (cooked) 100g 2.4
Green pea (cooked) 100g 5.5
Potatoes (baked, with skin) 100g 2.2
Sweet potato (baked, with skin) 100g 3.3
Dried beans
Black-eye bean (cooked) 100g 6.5
Soya bean (cooked) 100g 6
Red bean (cooked) 100g 7.3
Mung bean (cooked) 100g 7.6
Kidney bean (cooked) 100g 6.4
Others
Cashew nut 100g 3.3
Peanut 100g 8.5
Sesame 100g 11.8
Chestnut (peeled) 100g 1.2

An example of diet rich in dietary fibre content

Meal Food type and amount Dietary fibre content (g)
Breakfast low-fat milk, 1 glass (240ml) 0
wholemeal bread, 2 slices (56g) 3.8
egg, 1 piece (50g) 0
Morning snack Raisins, 1/3 cup ( 49g) 1.8
wholemeal crackers, 3 pieces ( 24g) 1.9
Lunch brown rice, 1 bowl ( 195g) 3.5
steamed fish ( 120g) 0
broccoli (cooked), 1/2bowl ( 90g) 3.0
banana, 1 piece ( 118g) 3
Afternoon snack boiled corn 1/2 bowl ( 82g) 2.0
Dinner brown rice, 1 bowl ( 195g) 3.5
kale (cooked), 1/2 bowl ( 65g) 1.3
meat or chicken ( 120g) 0
orange,1 piece ( 131g) 3.1

  Total dietary fibre content 26.9
References:
Nutrient Information Inquiry System, Centre for food safety
 
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