Anti-cancer, anti-cholesterol, anti-heart attack… Fiber is essential for health, but we don’t actually eat enough of it. The good reflexes of Magali Cros-Roig, dietician-nutritionist for every day refueling.
In adults, Anses recovers daily fiber intake of 30 g per day. However, we are not there yet! According to the Nacre network (Nutrition Physical Activity, Cancer Research), in France the average is fiber consumption of the adult population is of 17.5g/day. Only 13% of adults (17.1% of men and 8.3% of women) reach the recommended threshold.
Fiber protects against stroke and heart attack
We know that fiber is useful for constipation, but their roles don’t end there! By capturing and naturally eliminating some of the fat in the intestine, fiber lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, allowing us to keep cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack at bay; “in reducing the speed of digestion, they lower the glycemic index of the meal, which helps with diabetes“, specifies Magali Cros-Roig, dietician-nutritionist; satiating, they undermine our cravings and our desire for sugar, allowing us to stay in shape and treat obesity; they participate too prevent the development of certain cancers, especially colorectal cancer. Their means of action? By fermenting in the colon, fiber generates short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate, a compound capable ofinhibit the proliferation of colorectal cancer cells.
They have a protective effect against cancer
“Furthermore, by accelerating intestinal transit, they reduce the contact time of pro-carcinogenic cells in the feces with the colorectal mucosa., adds Magali Cros-Roig. The fibers would also play a role role in breast cancer prevention even if the mechanism of action is not yet very clear (researchers have several options, such as reducing obesity, providing protective elements, etc.). According to the report published in 2018 by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), which assesses the levels of evidence of links between fiber consumption and cancer risk: “consumption of foods that fiber is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, with probable level of evidence“, while the collective expert report coordinated by the National Cancer Institute (INCa) in 2015 described the level of evidence as convincing for this cancer, and probably for breast cancer.
Add legumes to your menus
To ensure that you get at least 30 grams of fiber per day, you should start eating legumes more often. Long shunned from our signs, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans and other dried beans are a wealth of fiber: 100 g of cooked dried vegetables provides an average of 9.34 g (8.45 g for lentils, 8.20 g for chickpeas and 13.8 g for white beans). As a bonus, they help us with that full of vitamins and minerals from the B group against fatigue such as magnesium, iron or even calcium. Dried vegetables can be eaten cold, in a salad, or warm as a side dish of a portion of meat, fish or eggs and can also be cooked in soups, stews, purees or, mixed with vegetables, in the form of pancakes or gratins.
Eat three fruits a day
Whether it’s breakfast, snack or dessert, eating fresh fruit is an opportunity to stock up on fiber. Among the richest: fresh coconut (9 g fiber per 100 g), passion fruit (6.8 g/0100 g), red fruit (5.3 g) or even guava (5.15 g). Tips: preferably eat them with the skin, because that is where most of the fibers are hidden.
Replace white cereals with whole grains
Swap rice, pasta, semolina and white bread for them “complete” or even “integral” version is a great way to increase your fiber levels. Unlike their ‘white’ counterparts, whole grains retain their skins. But this is where they hide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. For example, if 100 g of cooked white pasta contains 1.9 g of fiber, whole foods contain 3.3 g. 100 g of white rice provides 1 g of fiber versus 2.3 g for whole wheat rice, and 100 g of white flour (T45) contains 2.5 g of fiber, versus 6.9 g for whole wheat flour and 10.2 g for whole wheat flour.
Eat two servings of vegetables per day
Whether as a starter or as an addition to your main course, eating vegetables makes it easy to increase your daily dose of fiber. Which one should you choose? “Salsify, celery, green cabbage, broccoli, leek, spinach… are among the plants that contain the most“, the dietitian sums up. Can be prepared in soup, in puree, in gratin with a little crème fraiche or béchamel sauce, in baked dishes or even used in a quiche, a savory pie or a plate of pasta…
Snack on oily fruits
In your morning bowl with muesli or as an afternoon snack, oil-containing fruit (almond, walnut, hazelnut, pistachio, etc.) are a tasty tip to get 30 g of fiber daily. The richest? The almond with 12.5 g per 100 g, closely followed by pistachios (10.1%), hazelnuts (9.4%), walnuts (6.7%) and Brazil nuts (6.4%).
Sprinkle with wheat bran
It is the champion in all categories: alone it provides 42 g of fiber per 100 g! “To benefit from its benefits, simply sprinkle one or two tablespoons of it over your mixed salad, your vegetable or pasta dish, add it to yogurt or when preparing bread or pastries.“, recommends our expert.
On the second step of the podium we find the linseed and chia seeds. 100 g of these little nuggets provides about 30 g of fiber (34 g for chia seeds and 27 g for flax seeds). We do not hesitate to add it to our dishes, in our pastry and bread preparations.
Fall for dark chocolate
Here’s some news that will take away our chocolate cravings: We already knew this gourmet food was a mine antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, but it is also a source of fiber, as it provides between 8.76 and 12.8 g depending on whether it contains 40 or 70% cocoa. This way we no longer deny ourselves a square during the day, with coffee… or even like that!
To drink coffee
If you don’t overdo it, coffee is a source of fiber. If 100 g of ground coffee provides 19.8 g of fiber, then one cup (250 ml) contains 2.97 g of these valuable nutrients.
If you have a fragile intestine, know that fiber can be irritating, especially if you are not used to consuming it. “They can cause symptoms such as: bloating, pain or even episodes of diarrhea, explains Magali Cros-Roig. To benefit from their virtues and at the same time avoid these digestive discomforts, there is no shortage of tips such as eat plants preferably cooked because cooking softens them and makes them more digestible. To you compotes, soups, purees… Take care of it too chew them well, about twenty times because the enzymes in saliva ensure that they are “predigested” and that they pass through the intestines much better“. Finally, cut your food into small pieces has the benefit of softening the fibers of your fruits and vegetables. Another option: prepare them smoothies.
With thanks to Magali Cros-Roig, dietician-nutritionist.
- World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, nutrition, physical activity and cancer prevention: a global perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2018
- PNNS Benchmarks Update: Review of Food Consumption Benchmarks, ANSES, 2016
- National Cancer Institute. Nutrition and primary cancer prevention: data update. Boulogne-Billancourt: INCa; 2015
- Dietary fiber and cancer risk, key data, Nacre