Canadians are missing a "powerhouse" nutrient in their diets that can lower cholesterol and help with weight management. Fibre is a key component to a healthy and balanced diet, but Canadians are only getting about half of the daily recommended amount. Skipping fibre may not only be costing Canadians their health, but it is also costing the health-care system millions.
A new study conducted by my team at the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals at the University of Manitoba and published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, revealed that by consuming cereal fibre -- found in cereal grains like wheat and oats -- Canadians can help reduce health-care system costs related to two common chronic diseases: type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
For this study, our research team examined how many Canadians eat fibre-rich diets, the impact of high fibre diets to help prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and the predicted cost-savings associated if fewer people have these chronic conditions. What we found could have a significant impact on our health-care system.
If Canadian adults increased their intake of cereal fibre by just one gram per day, there could be a reduction of health care costs related to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes by up to $143.2 million per year.
Health Canada recommends men and women consume 38 grams and 25 grams of fibre respectively per day. When Canadians only consume half the amount of fibre they require, they may miss out on the many benefits of this powerful nutrient. Fibre can lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar control and regularity, and increase satiety to support weight management. Some types of fibre even act as a prebiotic, which can contribute to an optimal balance of bacteria living in our gut.
To stay healthy, and to help keep our health-care system healthy, we should all work to meet our daily requirements of fibre. Boosting dietary fibre intake doesn't need to be hard. Here are simple tips to incorporate fibre into the diet:
- Choose bran-based and whole-grain cereals and breads;
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and legumes (like chickpeas and kidney beans);
- Look to add a very high-fibre cereal like All-Bran Buds to a variety of foods you may already be having daily, including yogurt, salad and smoothies. You can even get creative and add it to family favourite recipes, like turkey and spinach meatballs (recipe below);
- Look for foods high in psyllium fibre and wheat bran. Psyllium fibre has been shown to lower cholesterol and improve blood sugar control, and wheat bran promotes regularity.
Canadians should talk to their family doctor, registered dietitian or other health-care provider about how much fibre they are getting, to learn more about the benefits of fibre and to understand how to get more fibre -- including cereal fibre -- in their daily diets.
Learn more at StartWithFibre.ca.
Turkey and Spinach Meatball Recipe
Yield: 4 Servings (4 meatballs/serving)
175 mL or ¾ cup All-Bran Buds cereal
15 mL or 1 tbsp 1% milk
500 g or 1 lb ground turkey
1 large egg, lightly beaten
125 mL or ½ cup cooked spinach, chopped
125 mL or ½ cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
125 mL or ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
5 mL or 1 tsp each, salt and fresh cracked pepper
5 mL or 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
15 mL or 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
2. In a small bowl, stir cereal with milk and let soak for 5 minutes.
3. In a separate large bowl, combine cereal mixture, turkey, egg, spinach, onion, garlic, cheese, salt, pepper and thyme. Mix just until combined, avoid over mixing to ensure meatballs will not be tough.
4. Form mixture into 1 ½ inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush meatballs with oil and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
TIP: Serve these meatballs on their own or in your favourite sauce.
VARIATION: For a turkey meatloaf, press mixture into a loaf pan and bake at 180°C (350°F) oven for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Slice to serve.
38 g Protein
18 g Carbohydrate
11 g Fat
8 g Dietary Fibre
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For a good dose of fibre, whip up a fibre rich dip like hummus or guacamole and dip some vegetables in it! "You will also receive benefits of healthy fats and protein adding to your satiating snack," says registered dietitian Nicole Osinga of Oshawa, Ont.
Often, store-bought granola bars can be filled with added sugar, so why not make your own? Not only do you get to choose your own ingredients, but you can ensure you will have a good amount of fibre. You can also try protein-packed muffins and pack them with nuts and seeds like chia and flax seeds.
Try going meatless a couple of times a week by swapping out meat dishes for lentils and beans. "You will keep the satiating punch but lower the caloric content of these items," Osinga says. Try a lentil chili, stew, soup or even burger.
If you're tired of roasting or eating your veggies plain, try making them into a puree or sauce. "Try adding some pureed pumpkin or cauliflower to your favourite tomato sauces," Osinga notes.
Sprinkle those seeds... on everything! Roasted nuts (like pecans, almonds or pistachios), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds — any fibre-rich seed will give your salad or meal an added crunch.
If you don't like the idea of flax seeds in your meal, make them go away via blending. Try a breakfast smoothie with two handfuls of greens like spinach or kale, with a frozen banana, a small amount of berries, yogurt, milk and add in some chia or flaxseeds.
Yes, we all love pasta, but to get more fibre out of your meal, try a squash pasta instead. "Reinvent pasta and lasagna noodles and use spiralizer, julienne peeler or a regular peeler," Osinga says.