Most people in the UK do not eat enough fibre. According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of Adults, women consume on average just 12.6g of fibre a day – well below the recommended 18 grams. If you’re following a gluten-free diet it might seem doubly difficult to achieve these levels on a daily basis. Here we shine a spotlight on five of the best gluten-free foods.
When people think of fibre they tend to think of bread and cereals – typically gluten-laden foods. But the best forms of fibre actually come from unprocessed foods like beans, nuts, seeds and fruit and vegetables – the fibre is the cellulose that literally makes the vegetables stand up! Getting adequate levels of fibre not only keeps us regular, a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology found those who had more than 30g a day halved their risk of getting breast cancer compared to those who ate less than 20g daily. So how do you achieve optimum levels while following a gluten-free diet? Here are five ideas:
Chia Seeds (36g fibre per 100 grams)
Boasting one of the highest fibre contents in the world, chia seeds are the perfect gluten-free breakfast food. They are also packed with omega 3 fatty acids and thanks to their gel-like quality, chia seeds will expand in your stomach and keep you feeling full for longer. Try making a chia pudding by soaking chia seeds overnight in almond or coconut milk, add them to smoothies or coat fish or chicken in chia seeds (rather than breadcrumbs) for a gluten-free supper.
Cacao Nibs (29g fibre per 100 grams)
Rejoice! Chocolate contains fibre. Cacao nibs – cacao beans that have been separated from their husks – provide the highest dose. Unlike conventional chocolate, cacoa nibs are sugar-free and have a slightly bitter flavour. But it’s worth getting used to their taste. Rich in magnesium, cacao nibs will help lower your stress levels naturally and keep you feeling focused and alert, thanks to the amino acid phenylethylamine (PEA) they contain.
Aduki Beans (13g fibre per 100 grams)
With a low glycemic index and high fibre content, aduki beans will keep your blood sugar levels stable. They also provide a nutritious combination of protein, gluten-free carbohydrates and friendly bacteria, which feed the healthy bacteria in your stomach. Try adding aduki beans to soups or experiment with substituting beans for flour in your next batch of brownies.
Millet (9g fibre per 100 grams)
You may not have heard of this gluten-free grain, but there is a lot to like about it. Millet is an ancient grain and is even mentioned as a prized crop in the Bible. It is packed with vitamins and minerals and can help boost your mood thanks to the serotonin and tryptophan it provides. Like aduki beans, millet also provides prebiotics to keep your gut healthy.
Broad Beans (8g fibre grams per 100 grams)
Brighten up your summer dishes with these delicious beans. Simply blanch in hot water and shell before eating. You can sprinkle broad beans on salads, mix them into a delicious dip or make a broad bean mash to accompany your evening meal. As well as being a good source of protein and fibre, broad beans are also rich in vitamin A and C. In Latin America you will find crunchy dried broad beans sold as street food. If you’re gluten-intolerant, look out for labels on processed broad bean snacks as they often contain wheat flour.