Dietary fibre is present in plant-based foods, e.g. fruit, vegetables (including root vegetables and tubers), pulses, as well as in cereals (grains). Unlike carbohydrates, proteins or fats, dietary fibre (which is mainly non-starch polysaccharides) cannot be digested and absorbed by our body. Depending on its solubility in water, dietary fibre can broadly be classified into two categories: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre may help to lower blood cholesterol level and stabilise blood sugar level, while insoluble fibre is important for proper bowel movement and preventing constipation. Food rich in dietary fibre can also help weight management because they are more filling. Moreover, since they require more chewing, a person is unable to eat a lot within a short period of time.


The sources of soluble dietary fibre include beans, legumes, oats and some fruit such as apples and pears, whereas whole grains and some vegetables are particularly high in insoluble dietary fibre. The following are some examples of foods rich in dietary fibre:

Food itemsServing sizeDietary fibre (g)
Oatmeal 1/3 medium-sized bowl 2.7
Brown rice 1 medium-sized bowl 4.5
Wholemeal bread 50 grams 3.4
Apple with skin 1 medium-sized apple 4.4
Broccoli 1/2 medium-sized bowl 2.6
Cooked red beans 1/2 medium-sized bowl 8.4

For the dietary fibre content of more common food items, please refer to the "Healthy High-Fibre Diet" pamphlet.


For children, the daily requirement of dietary fibre (in grams) is equivalent to their age plus 5.1 For example, a child at the age of 8 needs 8 + 5 = 13 grams of dietary fibre every day.

For adolescents and adults, they need 25 grams or above of dietary fibre every day.2

Health Alert

Sudden increase in fibre intake can cause increased gas in stomach and bowel, abdominal bloating and cramping. To minimize such discomfort, add fibre to diet gradually to allow our body to adapt. Be sure to have adequate fluid intake (6-8 cups of fluid) each day. For those with certain chronic diseases (such as intestinal or bowel disorders), they should consult their doctor or dietitian as they may not be suitable to eat large amounts of fibre.

Practical Tips for Increasing Dietary Fibre Intake

Plant-based foods in general contain different amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fibre (as well as various vitamins and minerals). To enjoy the greatest health benefit, the best way is to eat a wide variety of plant-based foods, especially in natural or minimally processed form. We should eat at least 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables as part of a balanced diet every day (2 plus 3 a day). Here are some tips for including more high-fibre foods in main meals and snacks:



  1. Williams CL, Bollella M, Wynder EL. A new recommendation for dietary fiber in childhood. Pediatrics 1995; 96: 985-8.
  2. Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases: Report of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation. WHO Technical Report Series No. 916. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2003.