Fibre - The Way to your Heart Health

By Maureen Tilley, PDt.

Author of Hold the Salt! & Hold that Hidden Salt!

If you are like most Canadians, you’re likely not getting enough fibre in your diet: Canadians average about 14g per day[1].  That's much less than the daily recommendation for people 9 years & older of 25-38g/day (4-8 years: 25g/day, 1-3 years: 19g/day).


Fibre provides many benefits beyond keeping your bowels regular -  it also plays an important cardio-protective role.


Heart Health: Fiber may help to decrease LDL cholesterol levels and risk for heart disease. Several studies have shown that individuals who eat a high fibre diet, especially from a high fibre cereal, had a 40% decreased risk for coronary heart disease[2].


It’s not completely understood how fibre plays a role but one thought is that it acts like a sponge by absorbing and removing cholesterol as opposed to being absorbed by the body. The other thought is individuals who are choosing high fibre foods tend to make overall healthier food choices[3].


Blood sugar control:  A high fibre diet has been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Studies have also shown that those who ate a high fibre diet were at a 2 times decreased risk of developing diabetes[4]. Fibre plays a role by slowing down the release of sugar in foods therefore decreasing spikes in blood sugar. It also absorbs extra sugar and takes it out of the body instead of into the blood.


Weight control & fullness: Fibre expands and takes up more space in the stomach and slows down the digestion of food helping you feel full longer. 


                                                                      Blood pressure: Some studies have shown that fibre                                                                             plays a role in decreasing blood pressure[5]. 









There are 2 types of fibre.  Aim to get a variety of both.


Soluble fibre may help lower cholesterol and control blood sugars. Research has shown 9g – 16.5g a soluble fibre a day decreased LDL by 3.2-12.1%[6]. Among the highest sources includes oats and legumes. Other sources include whole grains, barley, psyllium and vegetables and fruit. 


Insoluble fibre adds bulk and roughage for bowel regularity and is attributed with decreased hunger. Combined with soluble fibre, it has also been shown to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease[7]. Foods high in insoluble fibre include: whole grains, bran and  the skin of fruits and vegetables.


Increase your fibre intake gradually and keep it consistent to avoid bloating, gas and cramping. Your body will adapt to the increased fibre intake. Make sure to drink plenty of water (1-2L/day) to avoid constipation. 


Tips to increase your fibre


-       Read labels and choose the products that are high in fibre. A 15% Daily Value or more per serving is a HIGH source of fibre.



-       Choose 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain breads and pastas. Go for brown rice, whole wheat couscous and quinoa.



-       Add high fibre cereal to your day. Look for cereals with at least 6g per serving.

If a bowl of high fibre cereal sounds unappealing try mixing it with your usual cereal.




-      Incorporate legumes. Enjoy chickpeas over a salad, dried beans in your casseroles,

soups and chilli, hummus with vegetable sticks or as a spread for bread. 



-      Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eat the peel when you can and choose the whole

fruit over juice. Fill half your plate with vegetables, add berries to your cereal and yogurt,

snack on fruit and vegetables.




-        Add a couple of tablespoons of wheat bran, psyllium husk or ground flax

to your hot cereal, smoothies and yogurt.

High Fibre Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Source: Hold that Hidden Salt, By Maureen Tilley, PDt. 

Makes 8 servings

Time: 30 minutes total

1 lb (450 g) extra-lean ground beef

1 tsp (5 mL) canola oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2 tbsp (30 mL) Italian seasoning

1 tbsp (15 mL) dried basil

1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) chili pepper flakes

1 large zucchini, chopped

6 medium mushrooms, sliced

1 can (5.5 fl oz/156 mL) tomato paste

1 cup (250 mL) red wine

2 cans (28 fl oz/796 mL) no-added salt diced tomatoes with juice

1 tsp (5 mL) sugar

1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) cinnamon (optional)

6 cups (1.5 L) spaghetti, cooked according to package directions (omit oil and salt)


In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, sauté meat until no longer pink. Remove meat from skillet, place in a strainer and run under warm water to remove excess fat. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, Italian seasoning, basil, and chili pepper flakes, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add zucchini and mushrooms and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until slightly tender. Add tomato paste and sauté for 1 minute. Add red wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add meat to saucepan and heat through. Add tomatoes, sugar and cinnamon (if desired). Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Decrease heat to low and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve over pasta.

Nutrition Facts -Per serving (1/8 of recipe): Calories 371, Fat 7 g Saturated 2g, Cholesterol 36 mg, Sodium 83 mg, Carbohydrate 55g, Fibre 9 g, Sugars 12 g,

Protein 22g







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© 2018 by The Dietitians Network of Nova Scotia.