Dietary fibre is a very important part of our diet. It is present in grains, fruits, and even vegetables. Dietary fibre has a lot of benefits, including improving digestion and preventing constipation, reducing the risk of diabetes, and lowering bad cholesterol levels in the blood. It also helps to maintain a healthy weight. Fibre is different from other minerals and nutrients in the sense that the body does not digest or absorb it.
Dietary fibre is classified into two groups:
- Soluble Fibre: This is fibre that dissolves in water and forms a gel-like liquid, also known as beta-glucan. This beta-glucan slows the absorption of glucose into the body, preventing a spike in blood sugar levels. It also lowers bad cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of heart disease, and makes one feel fuller after eating. This kind of fibre is found more in foods like oats, wheat, peas, sweet potatoes, apples, and more.
- Insoluble Fibre: This kind of fibre does not dissolve in water. Instead, it adds bulk to stool, making it easier to pass out solid waste from the body. It also promotes healthy digestion, which prevents constipation, irregular bowel movement (IBS), and other gastrointestinal diseases. Sources of insoluble fibre include whole-grain foods like brown rice, beans, nuts, seeds, cucumber, and more.
In today’s post, we would be looking at Nigerian foods that are rich in soluble fibre.
Oats is a popular breakfast choice here in Nigeria. It is also used these days to make a kind of meal known as ‘oatmeal swallow’. Oat is a very healthy cereal with a lot of benefits in the body, including promoting healthy digestion, improving blood sugar control, and more. Besides soluble fibre, oats are also rich in nutrients like zinc, selenium, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, proteins, B vitamins, and much more. Oats are also rich in antioxidants, which helps to remove free radicals from the body.
Cowpea is what we commonly call ‘beans’ here in Nigeria, although they belong to the same legume family. Cowpea is rich in a lot of nutrients, especially protein, fats, copper, and carbohydrates. It also has a high fibre content, the soluble kind. Many Nigerians get most of their plant protein from cowpea, and it is a regular diet for most people. It can be used to make other dishes like ‘akara’ and ‘moi-moi’. Black-eyed beans are rich in soluble fibre.
Just to be clear, the real beans’ which are also available here in Nigeria, are rich in soluble fibre and other nutrients as well.
The cornerstone of the Nigerian diet. Many Nigerians enjoy rice in different ways and there are always new recipes involving rice coming out every day. Although the kind of rice that is commonly eaten is white rice, which is not a whole grain, it is still rich in a range of nutrients, and also has a high fibre content.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes do not only taste good, but they are also very healthy. It is rich in both kinds of fibre, soluble and insoluble, making it perfect for the all-around fibre diet. Nonetheless, 150 grams of sweet potatoes contains 1.8 grams of soluble fibre. Furthermore, sweet potatoes are high in potassium, beta carotene, and B vitamins.
5. African Pear (Ube)
African Pear commonly called Ube is one of the healthiest fruits in Nigeria. They are loaded with essential antioxidants, nutrients, and dietary fibre. It has a significant amount of soluble fibre and is good for the digestive system.
Millet is one of the most cultivated grain in Nigeria. It is rich in dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. However, millet contains soluble fiber, which traps fats and helps reduce cholesterol levels. There are a plethora of Nigerian foods prepared with millet, such as millet fufu, akamu or ogi, and kunnu zaki.
Yams are highly nutritious, versatile, and delicious tubers, which can benefit your health in many ways. Yam contain soluble fibre and resistant starch that increases digestive enzymes, which help break down food and increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. Yams are not only an excellent source of fibre, but are also high in potassium and manganese, which are important for improving bone health, growth, metabolism, and heart health.
Other Soluble Fiber Foods in Nigeria:
- Cashew nuts
- Tiger nuts
- Pepper fruit
- Guinea corn
- Basmati rice
- Flax seeds