Sources of fibre

Because the components of dietary fibre are found in different proportions in fibre-containing foods and have different properties, it is important to eat a variety of fibre-containing foods. Some examples of components included within the CODEX definition of fibre and the food sources are listed below:

Fibre Component Description Food sources
Cellulose Polysaccharides comprising up to 10 000 closely packed glucose units arranged linearly. Grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, cereal bran.
Hemicellulose Polysaccharides containing sugars other than glucose. Cereal grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes (for example: peas, beans, chick peas, lentils) and nuts.
Lignin A non-carbohydrate component associated with plant walls. Foods with a woody component, for example, celery and the outer layers of cereal grains.
Beta-glucans Glucose polymers that (unlike cellulose) have a branched structure Mainly found in cell wall of oats and barley.
Pectins A non-starch polysaccharide common to all cell walls. Fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and potatoes.
Gums and mucilages Non-starch polysaccharides which are thick gel-forming fibres that help hold plant cell walls together. Gums: seeds and seaweed extracts; Mucilages: pysillium seeds. Gums and mucillages are used as gelling agents, thickeners, stabilisers and emulsifying agents.
Resistant starch Starch and the products of starch digestion that are not absorbed by the small intestine. Legumes, potatoes, cereal grains
Oligosaccharides Short chain carbohydrates of 3-9 monomers. These include fructo-oligosaccharides and galacto-oligosaccharides. Onions, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes
Micro components (waxes, cutin and suberin) Micro components of the plant structures. Cereal grains


The average total fibre content of selected foods can be seen in the table below.



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