Understanding “High in Fiber” | Health Eagle

Understanding “High in Fiber”

by Louise July 26th, 2011 | Diet
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You’ve heard that a high-fiber diet is good for you. How much do you need, and what does it do?

What it means for a product to be high in fiber? You see all these products that advertise being “high in fiber.” These companies aren’t allowed to arbitrarily make this claim; it is regulated by the FDA. A product may be considered high in fiber if it contains 20% or more of the recommended daily value of fiber per serving. A product is low in fiber if it contains less than 5%. (The products between the two values are in some sort of limbo).

What fiber does for you. Fiber is probably best known for its ability to help prevent or relieve constipation, but it actually has a few other health benefits. Before even hitting your stomach, fiber has a useful function. Foods high in fiber are typically harder to chew, so they slow down your eating. More time eating means your body can decide to stop eating when you have become appropriately full, instead of after you have passed that point. Foods high in fiber also tend to linger and make a meal seem larger; you stay full for a longer period of time, which can help with weight loss.

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. The benefits of soluble fiber are the lesser known of the two. Soluble fiber helps slow down the digestion of carbohydrates; it helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which is especially important for those with diabetes. Fiber also helps lower bad cholesterol levels, reducing one’s overall risk of heart disease. Insoluble fiber is the one that promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases stool size. A high intake of this type of fiber is known to help those who struggle with constipation or irregular stools.

You want to have a diet high in both types of fiber. Unfortunately, there is no requirement for labels to indicate which type of fiber is in a particular product. Luckily, most plant foods contain some of both kinds. Good sources of insoluble fiber include whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, and most vegetables. Good sources of soluble fiber are oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, carrots, barley, cereals, seeds, and rice.

When faced with decisions in the grocery store, choose foods that are high in fiber.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.