Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet

Dietary fiber, present in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, may be best recognized for preventing constipation. Other health benefits of fiber-rich foods include weight management, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer prevention.

The plant parts your body can't digest or absorb are dietary fiber, roughage, or bulk. The body doesn't digest fiber, unlike lipids, proteins, and carbs. Intact, it passes through your stomach, small intestine, and colon.

Dietary fiber?

Water melts this fiber into a gel. Both cholesterol and glucose can be lowered. Oats, peas, beans, apples, oranges, carrots, barley, and psyllium contain soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber

This fiber helps constipation and irregular stools by moving material through the digestive system and adding bulk to stool. Insoluble fiber is found in whole-wheat flour, wheat bran, almonds, beans, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes.

Insoluble fiber

Dietary fiber softens and bulks feces. Bulky stools are simpler to pass, reducing constipation. Because it absorbs water and adds bulk, fiber may help firm loose, watery stools.

Normalizes BM

Hemorrhoids and colon pouches may be reduced with a high-fiber diet. Studies show that a high-fiber diet may lessen colorectal cancer risk. Fiber ferments in the colon. Researchers are investigating how this may prevent colon illnesses.

Maintains bowel health

Oat, flaxseed, and oat bran soluble fiber may lower "bad," or low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol, lowering total blood cholesterol. Research suggests high-fiber diets decrease blood pressure and inflammation.

Lowers cholesterol

Soluble fiber can decrease sugar absorption and lower blood sugar in diabetics. A healthy diet with insoluble fiber may minimize type 2 diabetes risk.

Controls blood sugar

High-fiber meals fill you up, so you eat less and stay full longer. High-fiber foods are less "energy dense," meaning they have fewer calories per unit of food, and take longer to eat.

Promotes healthy weight

Studies show that eating more fiber, especially cereal fiber, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and all malignancies.

Improves longevity

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