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Fibre and fennel
By Nutritional Therapist Roisin Cooke, graduate of CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine) in Edinburgh.


Why you need it 
Fibre helps control cholesterol, which may reduce cardiovascular risk.  It can help process food, which may prevent various bowel problems such as constipation, and helps us absorb nutrients.  By contributing to appetite control through balancing blood sugar levels, fibre also assists us to maintain a healthy weight.
A typical Western diet does not contain enough fibre - we should be aiming for around 18g per day.

What do you find it in?
Fibre is a carbohydrate that is not broken down easily by the digestive system and is found in plant-based foods.  There are two types of fibre - soluble, and insoluble.   Insoluble fibre helps make stools bulky and soft and so easier to pass.  It also helps maintain a healthy population of good bacteria in the gut, needed to break down and absorb nutrients from the food we eat.  Typical sources of insoluble fibre include beans, celery, figs, brown rice, oats.

Soluble fibre helps control cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of bile, which causes the liver to produce more bile.  Since the body uses cholesterol to make bile salts, it therefore lowers LDL which is the so-called  'harmful' cholesterol. Soluble fibre can be found in such goodies as apples, oats, pears, strawberries and citrus fruits.
A 90g bowl of wholewheat pasta could provide 9g of fibre, whilst 50g of figs will provide 4g of fibre.

Seasonal Tip
Fennel was revered by the ancient Greeks for its medicinal qualities.  It has a crunchy texture like celery but tastes a little like anise.  All parts of the fennel plant can be eaten, so it can be added raw to salads, braised to complement fish, added to juices, or the seeds and fronds can be used to make tea which can help relieve flatulence!

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