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You Ask, I Answer: Soluble vs. Insoluble Fiber

Posted Aug 24 2008 2:01pm
I've become aware now (with your help) on how to find fiber and foods that are high in fiber but I'm wondering about the amount of soluble fiber and insoluble fiber in a lot of common "high fiber" foods.



I would love for you to explain a little bit the different things each does and if you really need to try to balance between the two for the best health benefits or if, as long as you get enough fiber, you don't really have to worry about the two different types.




I ask this because I notice a lot of foods just state how much fiber they have but some bars (especially Gnu) go the extra mile to break down and show how much of each type they contain.




-- Andrew Carney


Richmond, VA




Great question.



Remember that fiber is solely found in plant foods -- meats and dairy do not provide it.



With that in mind, let's break it down.



Soluble fiber is helpful with cholesterol reduction, providing a feeling of fullness for a significant amount of time, and stabilizing blood glucose levels.



Insoluble fiber, meanwhile, keeps things moving through the digestive tract, making it an important factor in reducing the risk of colon cancer.



Both are important and necessary.



Oat bran is the best source of soluble fiber, while wheat bran is composed of solely insoluble fiber.



Legumes, beans, and nuts are a mix of insoluble and soluble, as are fruits and vegetables (in the case of fruits, skins contain insoluble fiber and the actual fruit contains soluble).



So, as long as you have a varied diet, you are getting sufficient amounts of both.



The important goal to keep in mind is to have 25 - 35 grams of fiber a day from your diet.



If you want to get a bit more technical, it is recommended you get at least 3 grams of soluble fiber a day for maximum cholesterol-lowering benefits.



This isn't all that much -- a quarter cup of oat bran does the trick.



Similarly, a medium pear provides 1.7 grams of soluble fiber, a peach 0.8, a mango 0.76, and a banana 0.6.



Later today I will post a yogurt bowl recipe that meets the daily soluble fiber recommendation.
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