Fibre and wholegrains
Fibre is an important part of a healthy balanced diet. A gluten-free diet can be low in fibre and wholegrains due to the removal of the cereals wheat, rye and barley.
Fibre is the part of plants that passes through the body without being absorbed. It is found in wholegrain cereals, fruit, vegetables and pulses (peas, beans and lentils).
Wholegrains are higher in fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein. We should all be eating more wholegrains as part of a healthy balanced diet. Including wholegrains in your diet can help to increase your fibre intake.
Wholegrain cereals contain all three parts of the grain compared to white refined cereals, such as white rice, which have had the germ and bran removed and are not classed as wholegrains.
How to identify wholegrain foods
- Look for the word ‘whole’ in the name, for example, wholegrain.
- Look for the words wholegrain at the start of the ingredients list. This means it is the main ingredient, such as, brown rice, wholegrain corn. Sometimes a combination of grains may be used.
- Be aware that if you see the term brown or multigrain this does not necessarily mean that the food is made from wholegrains.
Examples of gluten-free wholegrains include:
- brown rice
- corn (even popcorn)
- gluten free oats*
- muesli (check the Food and Drink Directory for gluten-free versions)
Fibre content can be measured in two different ways:
- Non-starch Polysaccharide (NSP)
- Association of Official Chemists (AOAC)
Old recommendations were based on NSP, but guidelines introduced in 2015 recommend the use of AOAC. Value provided in the table below are based on AOAC.
Most people in the UK do not eat enough fibre. Adults in the UK should have 30 grams of fibre each day and children over 2 should have between 15 grams - 25 grams each day, depending on their age.
Sources of fibre for a gluten-free diet:
|Food||Amount of fibre (g)|
|Jacket potato, 200g||6.7|
|Baked beans, 80g||5.2|
|Brown rice (cooked), 195g||4|
|Dried apricots, 30g||2.5|
|Mixed nuts, 25g||2.1|
|Red lentils, 80g||2|
|Gluten-free cornflakes, 30g||1.2|
- Aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day (especially those with skins, pips and seeds). Fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced all count as one of your five a day. Serve fruits and vegetables unpeeled where possible.
- Add a handful of dried fruit, nuts or seeds to gluten-free breakfast cereals or yoghurt.
- Add pulses, such as peas, beans or lentils, and extra vegetables (fresh, frozen or tinned) to soups, stews, curries and sauces.
- Try gluten-free wholegrains such as amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff.
- Choose naturally gluten-free foods such as brown or wild rice and jacket potatoes with their skins.
- Opt for brown, multigrain or fibre versions of gluten-free breads, rolls, flour, pasta, pizza bases and crackers.
- Choose ‘wholegrain’ or ‘fibre’ rather than ‘white’ or ‘brown’ when you can.
- Opt for wholegrain/high fibre snacks throughout the day such as a handful of apricots or figs, seed mixes or cereal or fruit bars. Check the Snacks section of the Food and Drink Directory for suitable snacks.
- Gluten-free oats* are also a useful source of soluble fibre.
Increase the amount of fibre you eat gradually and make sure that you drink plenty of fluids at the same time. If you’re concerned about your fibre intake, speak to your dietitian.
*Check the Food and Drink Directory for suitable products.