Importance of Dietary Fibre

Importance of Dietary Fibre

We’ve heard the low carb and high protein diet chants. Have we forgotten fibre in the bargain? Fibre is a plant- based substance, found in food. There...

Dietary fibre is an essential nutrient required for proper digestion of foods, proper functioning of the digestive tract at large, and for helping you feel full

We’ve heard the low carb and high protein diet chants. Have we forgotten fibre in the bargain? Fibre is a plant- based substance, found in food.

There are two kinds of fibres - soluble and insoluble and both are beneficial to us. A fibre sufficient diet (women need about 25 grams and men between 35-40 grams daily) lowers cholesterol and triglycerides.

It also helps to keep blood sugar in check by delaying the absorption of sugar and slowing overall digestion. Fibre also helps in reducing the risk of digestive problems. Dietary fibre adds bulk to our diet because they make us feel full faster, helping to control our weight. The role of dietary fibre is to keep our digestion in check.

The most important thing while adding fibre to our diet is to remember that it needs to be done at a slow pace as adding too much fibre too quickly leads to severe bloating and cramps. Apart from the fact that fibre helps us control weight and adds bulk,

it is much forgotten because it hasn’t received as much attention as protein and carbohydrates. While packaged food carries the quantity of fibre that a particular food contains, making it easy for us to make a choice, it is everyday foods that we need to focus on.

To eat a fibre rich diet, a few simple rules need to be followed:

Eat less packaged food. Fresh, made-from- scratch meals preserve nutrients and fibres better. Also packaged foods come loaded with sugar, salt, trans fats and preservatives.

Include lentils, beans and legumes in meals. Beans like soya bean, rajma and dried peas are rich sources of fibre. Indian diets use a lot of lentils such as moong, tur and masoor. If your family is tired of the same dal everyday, try to mix up and create variety.

Moong dal can be used to make pesarattu, crepes and fritters. Soya bean and rajma can be made into curries, added to stews and wraps like burritos and quesedillas. Add a handful of boiled beans and lentils to a salad. Make it interesting and use different salad dressings to go with the beans.

Make cereals count. Corn, wheat bran and oats are good sources of fibre. Popcorn minus a load of butter and salt is a great way to include fibre. So is eating whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat rotis/ pizza and oats. Forget eating cold, uninteresting oat porridge for breakfast; oats can be added to any savoury dish like upma, vada, pongal. Powdered oats can be added to cakes, bakes, cookies and pancake batter, omeletes and even dosa batter.

Vegetables are an unbeatable source of fibre. The crunchier the better. Think carrots and peas and steamed cauliflower in dry tossed sabzis with minimal seasoning. Potatoes cooked with the skin are an excellent source. Scrub the skins clean and cook as usual into a creamy curry or roast them for a snack. Eating raw vegetables is also a good way to get more fibre into our diets.

All forms of fruit are good, but the humble banana and seasonal apples (with skin) and oranges are fibre rich. When in season, do include a lot of strawberries and fresh figs. All those minute seeds and the skin is excellent for us. Include nuts into the daily meal. Peanuts and flax seeds are great sources of fibre and if you are a south Indian, making these into a myriad podis is not tough.

Added with a dash of spice and ghee, these fibre rich foods are a tasty touch to our breakfasts. Almonds and sunflower seeds are also beneficial and can be carried in a small box to serve as a snack on the go.

Spicy whole red lentils


Whole masoor dal 2/3 cup

(red lentils with skin soaked for 3 hrs)

Red onion chopped roughly 1 large

Pinch of asafetida

Pinch of turmeric

Ginger garlic paste 1 tsp

Green chillies 2 slit

Water 1 cup

A few curry leaves

Tomato chopped 1

(Or 2 tablespoons tomato puree)


Pressure cook all of the above for 3-4 whistles and turn off the heat. allow the steam to escape and open the cooker, stir the contents well.

1/2 cup thick coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoon everest meat masala (or any other sucyh as kitchen king masala) you can substitute this with 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/2 teaspoon jeera powder

2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves

Salt to taste

Add the above to the pressure cooker and heat through, stirring well. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes till everything is well incorporated. check for spice and seasoning and adjust accordingly. the consistency should not be too thick or thin, rather like a thick soup.

For the tadka


Ghee 1 tsp

Dry red chillies 1-2

Whole cumin / jeera 1/2 teaspoon


Heat the ghee in a small pan. splutter the mustard, add the dried red chillies and wait for a couple of seconds till they change colour. add this to the cooked lentils, bring to aboil.Take off from heat and serve hot with steamed rice or rotis.

Adai Dosa


Tur Dal(Split Pigeon Peas) 1 cup

Chana Dal(Bengal Gram) 1 cup

Urad dal (black gram) 1 cup

Dried Red Chillies 3-4

Cumin Seeds 2 tsp

Brown Rice ¼ cup

Asafetida (Hing) ¼ tsp


Soak the dals for 5-6 hours. Soak the brown rice in water for 30 minutes.

Grind together the soaked rice, dals and red chillies along with ½ cup water to form a thick grainy batter.

Add the cumin, asafetida and salt to taste.

Heat a griddle (use a nonstick pan) over medium heat, add a ladleful of the batter to the pan and spread it evenly to form a dosa.

Drizzle with a little oil around the corners and cook till it is golden brown. Gently ease the corners and flip over, cook on the other side till crisp.

Serve hot with chutney and sambar.

By: Arundati Rao

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