There are many ways to increase your fibre intake and lots of reasons why this is a good idea. Read on to learn about this health-enhancing substance and how you can add more to your diet.

What is fibre?

Foods that contain fibreFibre is an indigestible carbohydrate that gives plants structure and rigidity. There are two types of fibre, insoluble and soluble fibre, and we need both. Insoluble fibre absorbs water, adding bulk to waste material and helping to move it through the gut. Wheat bran, whole grains, seeds, leafy vegetables, berries and many vegetables and fruits are good sources of insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre breaks down as it passes through the digestive tract, forming a sticky gel that keeps the body from absorbing cholesterol and helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Good sources are oats, beans, barley, lentils, and some vegetables and fruits including apples, pears, and strawberries. 

Why do I need fibre?

Fibre isn’t just good for digestion and regularity. Recent studies suggest fibre also helps to prevent heart disease and diabetes. And if you want to lose weight, including more fibre can reduce your total food intake because it helps you to feel full longer and delays hunger. Fibre-rich foods are good sources of potassium and magnesium, minerals that play a role in maintaining normal blood pressure.

How much do I need?

In order to reap the benefits that fibre provides, you have to eat enough. The good news is that doesn’t mean massive quantities.

  • Females, ages 19-50: 25 grams
  • Males, ages 19-50: 38 grams
    (Source: Dietary Reference Intakes, 2002)

How to get more fibre

Nutrition facts label showing fibre contentOne of the easiest ways to do this is to start off the day with a high fibre breakfast cereal. Choose one that contains at least 5 grams of fibre per serving. You can find the fibre content and other nutrition information on the Nutrition Facts panel on all packaged foods. Be sure to check the serving size and compare it to the portion that you eat.

More easy ways to add fibre to your diet

  • Choose 100% whole grains and eat at least 3 servings daily. These contain the entire grain kernel, including the fibre-rich outer layers. When buying bread, bagels, crackers, etc., look for whole grains, like whole wheat or whole rye flour, at the top of the ingredient list.
  • Use whole wheat pasta and brown rice.
  • Eat more veggies and fruit. Have 3-4 servings of each every day.
  • Leave the skins on vegetables and fruit. Eating the skin of a baked potato or apple increases its fibre by 50%! Cooking does not affect fibre.
  • Add dried fruit, nuts, or seeds to yogurt or salads.
  • Include beans and lentils often. Try them in soups, chili, tacos, burritos, wraps, and salads.Beans
  • Add a couple of spoonfuls of a very high fibre cereal like All Bran or Bran Buds to a smoothie, fruit yogurt, or as a topping on your usual cereal.

Take it slowly!

Adding too much fibre too quickly can cause stomach discomfort. Increase it gradually, and be sure to drink lots of water so that the fibre can work properly.

What's in your bowl of cereal?

Top 10 high fibre cereal choices (Source: Nutrition Action Healthletter April 2006)

Cereal Calories Fibre Sugar
General Mills Fibre 1, 1/2 C 100 14 0
President's Choice Fibre First, 1/2 C 110 13 5
Kellogg's All-Bran, Original, 1/2 C 90 12 7
Kellogg's All-Bran, Buds, 1/2 C 70 12 8
Kashi Good Friends, 1 C 170 11 9
General Mills Fibre 1, Honey Clusters, 1 1/4 C 210 10 4
Kashi GoLean, 1 C 190 10 6
Post 100% Bran, 1/2 C 120 10 7
Post Spoon Size Shredded Wheat & Bran, 1/2 C 220 9 1
Compliments Very High Fibre Bran, 1/2 C 90 9 5

Did you know?

  • Enriched flour and wheat flour are both refined white flours and are not good sources of fibre.
  • Multigrain may just mean that a small amount of whole grain has been added to white flour.

Where can I get more fibre?

Source: Nutrient Value of Some Common Foods, Health Canada, 2008 ()


Whole grains provide excellent sources of fibre. All values listed below are for cooked grains.

Fibre source Fibre (grams)
Quinoa, 1 c 10.0
Whole wheat pasta, 1 c 6.4
Oat bran, 1 c 6.0
Millet, 1 c 5.2
Pearl barley, oats, 1 c 4.0
Brown rice, 1 c 4.0
Bulgur, 1 c 3.8
Popcorn, popped, 4 c 3.3

Breads, crackers, and other

Choose products made with 100% whole grain flours. Check the fibre content listed in the nutrition facts.

Fibre source Fibre (grams)
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 2.0
Pumpernickel bread, 1 slice 2.0
Whole wheat wrap, 10 inch 4.0
Triscuits, 5 3.0
Grains First crackers, 6 2.0
Whole wheat pita 4.5
All Bran bar 4.0
Kashi granola bar 4.0
President's Choice cereal bar 3.0


For very high fibre cereals, see above list. Choose cereals with at least 4 grams fibre per serving.

Fibre source Fibre (grams)
Spoon Size Shredded Wheat, 1 c 7.0
Grape Nuts, ½ c 6.0
Raisin Bran, Shreddies, 1 c              6.0
Red River, 1 c cooked 5.1
Corn Bran,  Bran Flakes, 1 c 5.0
Oatmeal, cooked 4.0

Beans and legumes

These foods are excellent sources of fibre, usually containing 6-7 grams of fibre per 1/2 cup cooked serving.

Fibre source Fibre (grams)
Black beans, 1/2 c 6.4
Kidney beans, 1/2 c 6.2
Chick peas, 1/2 c 6.0
Lima beans, lentils, 1/2 c 4.5
Baked beans, plain, 1/2 c 5.0
Hummus, 1/4 c 4.0

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are good sources of fibre, but most people should choose small servings due to high calorie content.

Fibre source Fibre (grams)
Pumpkin seeds, 1/4 c 8.3
Almonds, 1/4 c 4.1
Peanuts, 1/4 c 3.4
Mixed nuts, 1/4 c 3.4
Sunflower seeds, 1/4 c 3.0
Peanut butter, 2 Tbsp 2.2


Cooking down not affect the fibre content of veggies, so enjoy them raw or cooked. A 1/2 cup serving contains an average of 1.5 grams of fibre.

Fibre source Fibre (grams)
Artichoke, medium 4.8
Potato, medium with skin 4.6
Green peas, 1/2 c 3.7
Sweet potato, medium no skin 3.4
Mixed vegetables, 1/2 c 2.8
Brussel sprouts, 1/2 c 2.6
Spinach, 1/2 cooked 2.6
Snow peas, 1/2 c 2.4
Broccoli, 1/2 c 2.3
Corn, 1/2 c 2.3
Green or red pepper, medium 2.3


Berries with seeds, fresh fruits with edible skins, and dried fruits are good sources of fibre. An average serving of fruit contains 2 grams of fibre.

Fibre source Fibre (grams)
Dried figs, 5 8.7
Raspberries, 1/2 c 5.8
Pear, medium 5.1
Mango, medium 4.1
Blackberries, 1/2 c 4.0
Dried prunes 3.0
Strawberries, 10 2.6
Blueberries, 1/2 c 2.6
Apple, medium 2.6
Kiwi, medium 2.6
Dried apricots, 1/4 c 2.6
Orange, medium 2.4